Pop Culture

1954 – AT&T

Mid-century advertising from Bell Telephone.

Woman talking on phone – Bell Telephone Ad – Coronet Magazine June 1954

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.

From a 1948 Bell Telephone Ad showing the words “American Telephone & Telegraph Co (and associated Companies)” as part of its logo.

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.

Coronet June 1954

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.

Federal Excise Tax on Long Distance reduced from 25% to 10%
Federal Excise tax on Local service reduced from 15% to 10%

American Home August 1948

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.

Just in the past year, we started work on 1500 new telephone buildings or additions to present buildings. In the three years since the war, we’ve added nearly 9,000,000 new Bell telephones.

Mid-century Bell Telephone Mascot from 1948
Bell Telephone Ad – Good Housekeeping August 1956

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.

Good Housekeeping September 1963

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.

Woman’s Day December 1956

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.

Additional telephones for your home cost little…just a few pennies a day.

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.

More Information

Breakup of the Bell System on Wikipedia

AT&T on Wikipedia

More Bell Telephone Ads from MidCenturyPage.com

3 comments on “1954 – AT&T

  1. Pingback: 1952 – Coca Cola – Mid-Century Page

  2. Pingback: 1959 – Singer – Mid-Century Page

  3. Pingback: 1956 – Phones at the Table – Mid-Century Page

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