The once and future telephone company, American Telephone and Telegraph, also known as the Bell System.

A Brief History of Monopolies

Back in the old days, there were just a few telephone companies - AT&T, GTE, and little bitty mom and pop phone companies in rural areas.

Eventually, the monopolistic practices of the original AT&T became so noxious that the federal government in 1974 forced the Bell System divestiture, breaking AT&T up into a long distance company (AT&T), and a research and manufacturing company (Bell Labs), and the Regional Bell Operating Companies one of which was Ameritech (which ran Michigan Bell in Michigan).

In the 1990s, the RBOCs started merging, Bell Labs changed its name to Lucent, merged with NCR and then split up, and various similar corporate behavior. (Think of a guppy aquarium filled with plants - the bigger fish eat the little, make baby fish - most of which get eaten, etc. Grim and confusing.)

During this time, the long distance company AT&T, suffering from competition with MCI and Sprint, decided to re-imagine itself with a new corporate logo. Out went the classic bell symbol (decidedly 19th century), and in came a new striped global (i.e.: ball-like) symbol. This was rapidly labeled by wags as the Death Star logo.

One of the RBOCs, SBC (formerly Southern Bell Corporation, not to be confused with Southwest Bell) was more successful than most of the others, and managed to gobble up (among others), Ameritech (aka. Michigan Bell, Illinois Bell, etc.) It then gobbled up the long distance company (AT&T) and took it's name (and logo.)

Kind of ghoulish, actually.

Corporate Site

See also