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Chain Of Events Led To Bell Breakup With AM-Bell System Breakup, Bjt

December 10, 1988 GMT

(AP) _ Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone and files for patents hours before another inventor, Elisha Gray.

-March 3, 1885 - American Telephone & Telegraph Co. is incorporated as subsidiary of American Bell Telephone Co. to provide long-distance service.

1893-94 - Bell patents expire and independent phone companies spring up.

-Jan. 1, 1900 - AT&T becomes parent company of American Bell.

Early 1900s - Seeking monopoly, AT&T refuses to allow rival phone companies to connect to its network until they sell out to AT&T.


1910 - AT&T gains effective control of Western Union, its biggest telephone competitor, and Chairman Theodore Vail has himself elected president of the rival company.

1913 - Under threat of antitrust suit, AT&T agrees to dispose of Western Union stock and not to buy more independent phone companies without government approval.

-1919 - In Kingsbury Commitment negotiated by President Woodrow Wilson, AT& T informally recognized as the nation’s telephone monopoly subject to federal regulation.

-Jan. 12, 1956 - In a controversial decision, Eisenhower administration ends seven-year antitrust suit against AT&T. By consent decree, AT&T allowed to keep Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary in return for staying out of computer business.

1968 - Federal Communications Commission in Carterfone decision allows other companies to sell telephones, answering machines, other customer equipment.

1969 - FCC grants application of Microwave Communications Inc. to sell private long-distance lines between Chicago and St. Louis.

1970 - FCC establishes policy of competition in intercity market, but limits it to private lines.

March 1974 - Under William McGowan, renamed MCI Communications Corp. sues AT&T on antitrust grounds.

-Nov. 20, 1974 - Justice Department sues AT&T on antitrust grounds.

1974 - McGowan uses loophole in FCC ruling to offer intercity long-distance service through Execunet, setting stage for MCI’s rapid growth.

1976 - FCC bars Execunet. But appeals court overturns the ban and Supreme Court in 1978 refuses to review the decision.

1976 - AT&T lobbies hard in Congress for bill to secure its monopoly, alienating some supporters.


April 7, 1980 - In Computer Inquiry II, FCC announces removal of tariff regulation on enhanced communications services. In a later modification, AT&T required to set up separate subsidiary to offer the services.

June 13, 1980 - Federal jury in Chicago awards MCI $1.8 billion in antitrust damages from AT&T.

Jan. 15, 1981 - Opening arguments in U.S. vs. AT&T.

Feb. 23, 1981 - Behind-the-scenes negotiations on settlement broken off by government.

March 1981 - Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger opposes AT&T breakup on national security grounds.

April 9, 1981 - William Baxter, Justice Department antitrust chief, resists Reagan administration pressure and vows to litigate case ″to the eyeballs.″

June 29, 1981 - Federal jury in New York awards Litton $276.6 million in antitrust damages from AT&T.

Dec. 10, 1981 - Rep. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., introduces legislation that would severely regulate AT&T.

-Dec. 16, 1981 - AT&T directors authorize Chairman Charles Brown to negotiate breakup of Bell System.

-Jan. 8, 1982 - Justice Department and AT&T sign consent decree separating local operating companies from the parent. AT&T is permitted to enter computer business through modification of 1956 decree.

-Aug. 24, 1982 - U.S. District Judge Harold Greene, who tried U.S. vs. AT& T, accepts decree with revisions, including permission for Baby Bells to publish Yellow Pages and sell phone equipment.

Feb. 28, 1983 - Supreme Court affirms Judge Greene’s divestiture decision.

-Jan. 1, 1984 - Bell System breakup takes effect. Twenty-two local phone companies are divided among seven regional companies. AT&T retains Bell Laboratories, Western Electric, long-distance. Legal wall placed between regulated and unregulated businesses.

March 27, 1984 - AT&T enters general-purpose computer business with line of minicomputers.

July 15, 1984 - Residents of Charleston, W.Va., begin national process of choosing a preferred long-distance carrier. Local phone companies required to give MCI and others as good connections as AT&T gets.

May 28, 1985 - In retrial, MCI gets $113 million in antitrust damages from AT&T instead of $1.8 billion.

Dec. 3, 1987 - Judge Greene continues ban on Baby Bells’ designing or manufacturing telecommunications products.

March 7, 1988 - Judge Greene permits Baby Bells to offer transmission of computerized information such as electronic mail and voice message services, but not to generate or manipulate the content of the information.