When deciding on the companies that would be featured in this month’s American Brands posts, I was excited to include Bell Telephone on the list. Most people know that the company began when inventor Alexander Graham Bell spoke the words, “Mr. Watson–come here–I want to see you” to his assistant on the first ever phone call 137 years ago.
Bell Telephone was also known as the American Telephone and Telegraph company (AT&T) and was the only choice as a telephone provider until 1984. Today the company operates under the name AT&T.
The company offered both phones and phone service in the mid-century. Mid-century Bell Telephone ads were commonly found in mid-century women’s magazines such as the one below from the June 1954 issue of Coronet magazine.
The ad above gives us a bit of a history lesson. It talks about a federal tax reduction for both local and long distance calling resulting in lower per-minute phone rates.
This ad is from the August 1948 edition of American Home magazine. This post-war ad talks about the company’s growth since the end of the war.
Check out this 1956 ad showing the cost of non-peak long distance on weekends or after 6:00. Calling long distance is one thing that has gone down in price over the years.
The new decade brought a different tone to its long distance advertising. This 1963 ad promoting Bell Telephone’s long distance service has a sad tone.
Besides Bell Telephone’s long distance service, the company also profited from selling extension phones and service. This ad from 1956 suggests having a telephone in every room of the house.
Telephone history is a fascinating subject. IMHO, breaking up the Bell System in the 1980’s was one of the best legal rulings in modern business. Introducing competition to the phone business provided lower prices, and better technology that helped bring the amazing communication conveniences that we enjoy today.
Breakup of the Bell System on Wikipedia
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