A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System : The Early Years, 1875-1925 edited by M.D. Fagen
New Jersey : Bell Telephone Laboratories, 1975. First Printing. Hardcover. 1073 pages ; photographic illustrations ; 21 cm. With original dust jacket, clean and unmarked pages, and firm binding.
A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System: The Early Years (1875-1925) offers a derailed view of the first fifty years of telephone technology. The narrative goes well beyond a simple statement of events to deal with the "how" and "why" of technological inncvation. It examines the underlying mot. vations and evaluates the long-term importance of the engineering, scientific, and organizational achievements that were the substance of the first five decades of remarkable progress in telecommunications. While this technical history is primarily an account of Bell System achievements, the treatment has not been constrained by corporate boundaries and thus recognizes fundamental contributions originating outside of the System.
During the half-century covered by The Early Years, a whole new field of technology evolved. Starting in 1875 with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Watson, a small group of prolific inventors, with little theory or practice to guide them, set out to develop a communication system that, unlike the telegraph of the time, could be used by anyone. Bell's vision, however, far transcended the first primitive steps in telephony and quite early he outlined his "Grand System" for a wor dwide network designed to interconnect any two users for voice communication wherever they might be. This concept has servtd as the broad telephonic objective ever since both within and outside of the Bell System.
The opening chapter of The Early Years
relates the events leading up to Bell's conceiving his “Grand System"; subsequent chapters deal with developments in specific areas of technology that led towards its realization. The evolution of station apparatus, wire and wireless (radio) transmission, switching, and various non-voice services is described in detail. Other chapters cover the development of materials and components for these new communications systems, the origins of quality control techniques, and the beginnings of scientific research in the Bell System. An early chapter is devoted to the corporate structures of the period since these organizational arrangements provided a continuing synergy of business planning and advancing technological skills.
A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System: The Early Years (1875-1925) is illustrated with over 500 photographs and drawings taken from Bell System historical collections or prepared especially for this volume. A carefully selected list of references and a comprehensive index also are provided.
A number of members of the Technical Staff at Bell Telephone Laboratories, both active and retired, participated in the planning, historical research, writing, and review of the material in this technical history; other members provided personal recollections or prepared source documents. The editor, M. D. Fagen, is Director, Special Projects, in the Information and Publication Division. The volume was prepared for publication by the Technical Publication Department of Bell Laboratories.
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