Talk:Bell Labs

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Book on Bell Labs?[edit]

Are there any good books on the Bell Labs or its history?

The Rape of Ma Bell: The Criminal Wrecking of the Best Telephone System in the World (Hardcover) by Constantine Raymond Kraus, Alfred W. Duerig ISBN: 081840468X

There's also A History of Engineering & Science in the Bell System, in several volumes, all quite long and detailed. Looking at [1], they seem to be mostly out of print now; I have only two of the volumes. Mindspillage (spill yours?) 15:00, 7 October 2005 (UTC)

According to research i'm doing on the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, Penzias and Wilson of the Bell Labs managed to make the connection for this discovery in 1965. The discovery that pushed the (hot) Big Bang theory of the universe to the fore, helped create some of the current questions in modern cosmology and won them a Nobel Prize in 1978.

See sources such as The Big Bang, David M. Harland; Ripples in the Cosmos, Michael Rowan-Robinson.

Early computers[edit]

I listed early computers built by Bell Labs. I hope to add details later. Bubba73 03:00, July 10, 2005 (UTC)

BTL is now all "Bell Labs"[edit]

I've been using this bit of wiki: Bell Telephone Laboratories to link everything to Bell Labs and not BTL (which redirects to BL). BL was bigger by leaps and bounds on what links here, and BTL had like 20 ... done for now ... now if I could get a handle on the Bell disambig / what links here page. Anyone can help, just use bell where appropriate!--Rbeas 04:39, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

name origin[edit]

Wasn't the parent company (and hence weren't the labs) named after Alexander Graham Bell? No mention of him can I find here. Carrionluggage 06:43, 27 December 2005 (UTC)


I think that I will create a category for all of the articles about Bell innovations. How about Category:Bell Laboratories developments? Cacophony 08:07, 6 January 2006 (UTC)

Huh, what else needs to be cleaned up? Article looks sort of fine to me. Someone needs to explain what needs to be cleaned.--Gary King 03:59, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
The whole thing still looks a mess - There are too many lists, the article needs some actual context rather than lists; and there are also too many red links so those pages need to be created as well. — Wackymacs 07:55, 1 February 2006 (UTC)
I took my own crack at a cleanup. I changed 'history' to 'timeline', since that is what it is. There are so many highlights - I think the timeline could be shorter or a whole lot longer - or not at all, especially where Bell Labs itself maintains a timeline that is far more detailed. Perhaps someone could turn the timeline into a series of paragraphs - maybe decade by decade. That might work better. But there also needs to be info on the biz side - who provided leadership and so forth. Verne Equinox 01:14, 9 February 2006 (UTC)


Upon reading this article I read that the LED was invented at Bell Labs, however the article on LEDs states nothing of Bell and instead mentions GE.

Well, I read a major article in Bell Laboratories Record a long time ago, but I can't say for certain that the article asserted the claim that Bell Labs invented them outright. The question may hinge on who invented the first LED of any kind, who invented the first visible LED, and so on.
Atlant 19:12, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
Ahh, there's the claim on the Bell Labs "timeline of discoveries" webpage [2]:
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Used practically everywhere from traffic lights to scientific imaging systems.
Atlant 19:16, 17 August 2006 (UTC)
According to the "Learn About Light - History of Light" page on GE's website [3]:
1962 Light Emitting Diode (LED)
Invented by GE. Electricity is transformed into light inside a solid crystal of semiconductor material.
Dustin 21:00, 22 August 2006 (UTC)

Nearly a century of innovation[edit]

I think the title of this section looks more like something that goes in a brochure than an encyclopedia. Can we change the title to "Achievements" or something like that? Somebody else probably knows a better title. --Whiteknox 13:20, 18 August 2006 (UTC)


AG Bell is covered in the linked AT&T article. As far as I see, the main defect in this lovely brochure is that it omits almost all the work of Bell Labs. CO2 laser, radio astronomy and information theory are all good things, but the main job of the thousands of workers was engineering. They mostly designed equipment. There should be a link or links to articles about carrier current, crossbar, cable insulation, microwave radio relay and other mainstream work. The brochure is all about science, while the actual institution was mostly about engineering. Jim.henderson 16:18, 2 October 2006 (UTC)

Science and Society[edit]

I know of at least two significant cognitive psychologist who worked at Bell Labs. There is an entry for George Sperling in Wikipedia and Ernest Z Rothkopf became president of the division of educational psychology in the American Psychol Assoc. In their published works, both acknowledge the Lab as an intellectually facilitating environment and the contributions of colleagues at the Lab to their work. Shannon's work on communication theory exerted enormously stimulating effects on linguistics, psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. And at a party last night, I listened in as a retired computer engineer alumnus of the Lab described the open, interdisciplinary, free-wheeling, creative atmosphere at the Lab during his years there and how the structuring of the Lab in relation to the Bell system promoted an atmosphere free of commercial constraints which yielded knowledge and inventions of enormous intellectual, social and commercial value. The article as it stands today obviously misses much of what the Lab may have contributed to the sciences beyond its contribution to the physical sciences and communication technology. Can we hope for a thorough history and analysis of the Lab's work that would --particularly in the current economic and political climate-- foster among Wikipedia-users a richer understanding of the relations between intellectual progress and economic progress than the simple assumption that the profit motive accounts for all progress? Linginfer (talk) 20:40, 22 June 2012 (UTC) Linginfer 22 June 2012.

Why So Little Mention of Lucent Technologies and Where Did That "Current Logo" Come From?[edit]

When I go to I see that Bell Labs is a part of Lucent Technologies. But there is little mention of that here. Why isn't the Lucent logo used? Where can you see the "current logo" currently being used? -- 20 October 2006


What's so special about a teleprinter in New Hampshire controlled from New York? Weren't teleprinters already in service for half a century or more? Jim.henderson 02:49, 14 November 2006 (UTC)

So, having found a more reliable report in the George Stibitz biography, I used a link to replace the inaccurate mention that someone supplied here. Jim.henderson 18:03, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

Dead Links[edit]

It seems all of the Links on this page and the entirety of Wikipedia that originally went to pages on Bell Labs's website now need to be either updated or removed completely. Bell Labs's website is now under Alcatel-Lucent's. NcSchu 22:53, 2 December 2006 (UTC)

Must have been a glitch. All the links work now and haven't been changed.
Jim.henderson 20:14, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

What about the other Bell Laboratories?[edit]

Does anything need to be said about this one?

I'm not sure whether I'm serious or not... Dpbsmith (talk) 02:06, 2 January 2007 (UTC)

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld (Deutschland) 1926[edit]

First patent for Transistor. 03:46, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Very Inaccurate[edit]

Well, I just read this article and, honestly, it is terrible. I was a member of Bell Labs for 30 years and also a Department Head for 20 years. Bell Labs went through many evolutions during the later part of the 1900's. First and foremost, this article should mention that in the late 1980's Bell Labs was dissolved as a separate corporation and the major sections (divisions) were folded under the control of the parallel P&L organizations within AT&T Technolgies. Bell Laboratories really no longer existed. In order to calm the furor within the corporation, the term "R & D community" was developed and the term Bell Laboratories was continued to be used only for public relations purposes. Bill Baker, Ian Ross, John Mayo, and Dan Stanzione lived through this great sunset of the Labs. They were all Presidents of Bell Labs. In particular, John Mayo was an absolute technical genius, he was in the Electronics Technology Division, he worked on Telstar, reprogramming it when it's bipolar transistors suffered from radiation damage. He also created the echo canceller, which solved a major problem in long distance communications. I watched him sit through reviews of all kinds of technical subjects and he always amazed me how he could grasp the technical aspects of any field and then give constructive feedback to the presenter. He typified something that is totally absent from this article, and that is, when a person was a member of Bell Labs, they belonged to a very special community, one in which technical issues were discussed, debated with passion, and resolved. The leaders of Bell Labs knew their mission very well and that was to provide universal service to the public. There is no mention of the cell phone. Yes that came out Bell Labs, and one of the first prototyes of a moblile cell phone was AMPS - Advanced Mobile Phone Service. As for the the author that wrote about Scalpel, it shows just how ignorant the person is and not educated into the many major advancements that Bell Labs made in the lithography field. The Primary Pattern Generator, the Electron Beam Exposure System - EBES, photoresist materials research and development, excimer laser lithography, x-ray lithography, etc. were all major efforts within the Labs. EUV lithography was also researched. There is a tremendous amount of material that needs to be covered in order to balance out this article. As one person commented, the major role of Bell Labs was to support the U.S. government's goal that there be universal service, a telephone in every household. Bell Labs consisted of approxiamtely 10 divisions, one was for long term research, one was for military and government applications, and the others did a magnificant job of engineering the telephone network in the United States. The knowledge was allowed, by the U.S. government, to be exported to many developing countries and raise the economic level of many parts of the world. When Universal Serice was essentially achieved in the early 1980's, AT&T and Bell Labs suffered from a loss of mission and also had to face the independently growing electronics industry. MCI went after long distance routes, Silicon Valley went after the electronics and software arenas. AT&T, AT&T Microelectronics and later Lucent Technologies did not know how to compete against these forces and demise of the hardware sector of the corporation followed. The consent degree of 1982, which took two years to execute, 1984, spun off the sales forces of the regional Bell Operating Companies into 7 independent corporations. They knew how to interact with the customer, but AT&T (parent corporation) was at a loss as to move forward. The result was the elimination of Bell Labs into the AT&T Technologies units. it may surprise some of you rfeading this, but the most important patents that came out the Bell labs, were probably the "800" telephone number system, the junction bipolar transistor, and the polysilicon-gate MOSFET structure. Esentially every silicon based MOSFET IC made today, uses the poly-silicon gate structure. The inventor was Robert Kerwin. AT&T never really made significant financial returns on its Nobel Prizes, except for their PR benefit. Bell Labs is a symbol of the creative growth, maturing and decline of a unique institution. Wiseoldowl 05:39, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Inaccurate, in my view, to credit Kernighan with development of UNIX and C if another 5 - 10 contributors are not also credited. UNIX and C were mostly work of Thompson and Ritchie. True, Kernighan is co-author of the book, but not co-author of the language.

They credited BWK with C? He'd fall to the floor laughing if he knew. Or cared about what's written here. You people seriously need to do research before writing fairytales. BWK wrote all but the tech ref at the back which DMR handled himself. DMR asked BWK to write the book

Posting this in discussion instead of as edit because I'd like to hear other views from people who were at Bell Labs at the time, as I was.

Hi, pleasant to hear from an old insider who can make important contributions. First a trivial comment; the custom is to open a new section at the bottom of the talk page, not the top, so I have moved it. Somewhat more important, you have titled the section with "Inaccurate" and then discussed mostly not inaccuracies but omissions.
Inaccuracies are pretty easy to deal with. Simply correct them yourself. Omissions such as the origin of Cell Phones or MOSFET are also fairly easy when the article is laid out chronologically as this one is. Find the date and insert a mention, with a link to another article about the topic if one exists. If there is no good article about the origin of MOSFET or X-ray lithography or other important bit of history, either expand the MOSFET or photolithography article with a good history section or write a new article, appropriately linked from here. In the case of who invented Unix, there's a Unix article and you should study that one for improvement. I wouldn't want to get into a long discussion of that question in this article.

Anyone not clear on the origins of Unix has no business contributing to this article. Discussion over.

Your comments on the "Universal Service" ethic, and on the styles and contributions of the various Labs presidents, sound like proper topics for new articles, including biographies. The more general comments about exporting to the world, and about the divisions, may be developed into a new section in the present article about Bell Labs at its peak. Anyway, welcome and I hope we can all improve this and other related articles together. Jim.henderson 12:10, 3 June 2007 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for File:Image135.gif[edit]

Nuvola apps important.svg

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Article is a Press Release[edit]

Should be rewritten from a neutral point of view and adjectives like "notable" removied. (talk) 21:30, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

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No association between "Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory" and "Bell Labs"?[edit]

Earlier on this page, Carrionluggage had enquired:

Name origin
Wasn't the parent company (and hence weren't the labs) named after Alexander Graham Bell? No mention of him can I find here. Carrionluggage 06:43, 27 December 2005 (UTC)

Today User:BilCat deleted a recent section addition to the article titled "Early namesake" in its entirety, which chronicled the "Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory", also known as the Volta Laboratory (which A.G. Bell created after he won the Volta Prize). The deleted section was titled 'Early namesake' for the reason that there was an association by name as follows:

  • 1876 –A.G. Bell receives master phone patent, becomes part owner of the Bell Telephone Company, later renamed American Bell Telephone Company;
  • 1880 –A.G. Bell creates the Volta Laboratory, a.k.a. the Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory, for research into sound recording and transmission, including the photophone; also
  • 1880 –"the management of American Bell created what would become AT&T Long Lines." A.G. Bell still owns shares in ABTC, and hence thus is part owner of AT&T; he remains "Chief Electrician" of ABTC and its children for several years;
  • 1881 –Western Union withdrew from the telephone market and allowed Bell Telephone to acquire its telephone manufacturing arm Western Electric;
  • 1885 –The long lines project "was formally incorporated into a separate company named American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T)";
  • 1899 –"the American Telephone and Telegraph Company bought the assets of American Bell" (that would appear to be a friendly takeover of the parent corporation by the child);
  • 1925 –Bell Labs is created, and assumes the research roles conducted by Western Electric Research Laboratories and part of AT&T's engineering department.

Whether any research projects were passed from the Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory to the Western Electric Research Laboratories or AT&T Engineering, and then onto the newly created Bell Labs is moot, since the section was entitled Early namesake and never inferred that there was such a connection. That there was a connection by name and share ownership, as shown above, is obvious; therefore the deleted section has now been reinstated as pertinent to the Bell Labs article. Comments? HarryZilber (talk) 23:12, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

If there is no connection (hence "namesake"), then why repeat half of the Volta Bureau article here? The first paragraph could pass on the relevant information without duplicating the article, as can a link in the "See also" section, which I did add. (The information on the building itself is certainly irrelveant here.) Otherwise, Volta Bureau should be deleted via AFD as a duplicate article. This article, as previously written, is about the later "Bell Laboratories", not the use of the name "Bell Labs". - BilCat (talk) 23:34, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
One option worth considering is to move this article to the more-formal title Bell Laboratories, and leave Bell Labs as a DAB page. Later on, perhaps a cited article can be written to cover the history of the term's usage. - BilCat (talk) 23:39, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
A lede sentence and two paragraphs on the Bell Lab's indirect historical roots doesn't appear outrageously excessive (imho), however I don't mind knocking off the architectural description to keep it more concise. Missing completely from this section's material is the Volta Bureau's involvement with the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf, which superseded its sound physics lab role, so it would be pretty wrong to assume the Volta Bureau article could be AFD'ed. HarryZilber (talk) 23:52, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I can accept the re-work as a compromise for now, and I won't delete anything whole without discussing it here first. We'll see if anyone else has any comments on a future option. - BilCat (talk) 00:25, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that the Volta Bureau should be mentioned. Whether or not it is directly related, I found it interesting and relevant, and I am sure other readers will too. Where there is a link to a main article as here, the text should be only a summary of the content of the main article, at most no more than one-fifth the length of the main prose in my opinion. On that measure, the section is still a little too long, but not unduly so. It could do with just a bit more trimming down, or alternatively, an expansion of the Volta Bureau article. It should certainly not be trimmed down to just a see also. Many editors think that see also is only temporary, it is for items that are waiting to be incorporated in the main text! If it does not deserve a mention in the article, it should not be in see also either. SpinningSpark 15:32, 18 December 2009 (UTC)
I appreciate the comments, SpinningSpark, and have further trimmed back the Namesake section. Additionally, after a re-reading of Bruce's Bell biography, I've struck out my above mention of the photophone being created at the Bell Laboratory site. Bell, for reasons not made clear in Bruce, rented a separate building on 'L' Street to do his R&D work on that device with Tainter and his cousin. I can only speculate that the Bell/Volta Lab was reserved for inventions related to telephony since he was under salary to the Bell Telephone Company where he committed to providing them with further telephone-related technical innovations. In that vein of thought, I would invite other technology historians to further pursue the historical antecedants of Bell Labs, since it didn't magically spring into existence. Only two years after it was created it demonstrated the first use of experimental videotelephony -television used as an adjunct to long distance telephone calls. Did Bell Labs inherit such R&D projects from Western Electric and AT&T Engineering? I would guess there's good material in that which could further enhance the Bell Labs article. Best HarryZilber (talk) 19:05, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

important 2000s - falseness?[edit]

Here are 3 articles which disproves facts about organic laser and f-15. or maybe i'm wrong?

Most important

Some other facts —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:52, 30 June 2010 (UTC)

Might also ask about whether the downsizing in the 80's 90's 00's might be mentioned in this article somewhere as part of the history of the lab. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:12, 29 October 2010 (UTC)

Anyone want to add a link to the invention of fMRI imaging by Seiji Ogawa? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 4 March 2011 (UTC)


"In 1983, the C++ programming language was developed by Bjarne Stroustrup as an extension to the original C programming language also developed at Bell Laboratories."

This has to be clarified. The C++ language being "an extension of the C language" is a popular misunderstanding. If it was true, it would mean that any C program is also a C++ program, which is false. - Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:46, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

Not it doesn't have to be clarified and it is not a misunderstanding. The statement as such is completely correct. It's you that are reading it wrong. C++ started after a Stroustrup project crash using Simula. He started with C. The working name for the language was 'C with Classes'. He began by associating functions with struct variables. And the year was definitely not 1983, for as late as autumn 1985 they still didn't have a name for the beast.


"but many of these were moved to New York suburban areas of New Jersey." — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:43, 16 April 2012 (UTC)

Quality control and contribution to statistics[edit]

Shewhart and Deming have to be added in... And yes, I'll be bold one day, but alas! there are only 24 hrs to a day :) (talk) 20:29, 24 April 2012 (UTC)