References and Links on the Bell System
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References and Links on the Bell System

The following links will lead you to other web sites on the topic of the Bell System.

AT&T History

  • A Brief History

  • Origins

  • International Activity

  • The Bell System

  • Post Divestiture

  • The New AT&T

North American Data Communications Museum - Remember the Teletype machines of long ago?  Western Electric and the Bell System played a major part in this communications product.

A Tribute to Telephone Central Offices and the AT&T Long Lines Microwave Network of California

The Telecommunications
History Group, Inc.

The Telecommunications History Group maintains and operates one of the nation's largest privately held telecommunications archives.

Telephone EXchange Name Project

Telephone numbers used to begin with two letters, which were an abbreviation for a word. An example is "MUrray Hill"; it was the name of the telephone central office exchange in New Jersey where Bell Laboratories was/is located.  This website project is an attempt to assemble information about exchange names from a lot of widely spread original sources.

by Albert LaFrance
  • AT&T's First Microwave Radio Route

  • Microwave Radio Equipment and Operations

  • and a lot more!

Bell Ringers

The Bell Ringers are a group of active and retired ham employees of the telephone industry plus some ham friends with a mutual interest.

Canada Says Hello:
The First Century of the Telephone

Multimedia archives from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

1964/1965 New York World's Fair

Bell Telephone Pavilion is proud to be the host website for the New York State Pavilion Air & Space Museum - Flushing Meadows-Corona Park -  Queens, NY

See this exciting world-class Museum proposal at

Your source for information on the Internet for the   Welcome to the Space Age!


Telephone Tribute - Former sister site on general telephone history.  This site has not been updated in a few years, so some links may not be functioning.


Omaha Works - This website was crafted for the former employees, friends, family members and interested people about the proud employees who were employed by the "BEST IN CLASS" ​manufacturing facilities of the old "Ma Bell" (Western Electric, AT&T, Lucent and Avaya) - {Administrator's point of view} Presidential Telephones of the United States - Former sister site on general telephone history.  This site has not been updated in a few years, so some links may not be functioning.
Central Office Buildings - collection of Telephone Central Office Building Pictures. This is a collection of central office buildings throughout the United States and elsewhere.



A SPECIAL NOTE:  If you have DSL (ADSL) or cable or other fast Internet access, you can download some free movies from the Internet Moving Images Archive: Movie Collection.

Here are some telephony related movies titles found on that web site.  Please go to  Internet Moving Images Archive: Movie Collection for descriptions and downloading:

  • Story Without End - 1950

  • Speeding Speech - ca. 1950s

  • Just Imagine - 1947

  • Mr. Bell (Part I) - 1947

  • Mr. Bell (Part II) - 1947

  • Far Speaking - ca. 1935

  • Century 21 Calling - 1964

  • Nation at Your Fingertips, The - 1951

  • Once Upon a Honeymoon - 1956

  • Telephone and Telegraph - 1946

  • Operator Toll Dialing: Cord Signals - ca. 1949

  • Operator Toll Dialing: Dialing - ca. 1949

  • Operator Toll Dialing: Teamwork - ca. 1949

  • How to Use the Dial Phone - 1927

  • Plane Talk - 1965

  • Communication: A Film Lesson in General Science / Development of Communication - 1927

  • Communications and Our Town - 1947

  • The Big Bounce - 1960 (The story of the Echo communications satellite project)


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The Western Electric Store


Books & References

The following books and other reference material are highly recommended for additional information on the Bell System and related telecommunications topics.  There are some of these books and other documentation in electronic archive format on this website (shown as hyperlinks below).

The following books are available from, Inc.  Use the Amazon search box to inquire on availability.


  • "Rape of Ma Bell" and "A Voice in the Wilderness" (link leads to book reviews)

  • Western Electric & the Bell System - A SURVEY OF SERVICE (electronic files available for downloading)

  • AT&T Divestiture Timeline - Web page on this site with key dates leading up to divestiture and beyond.

  • Long Lines - The Bell System Unit For Nationwide
    and Worldwide Communications
    - Published in 1969

  • "The Phone Book - What the telephone company would rather you not know" by J. Edward Hyde. Henry Regnery Company - Chicago. Copyright 1976. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 76-6275. This book is out of print but you may find it in used book stores or  Gives a dark view of Ma Bell but interesting reading nonetheless.

  • "Manufacturing the Future - A History of Western Electric" by Stephen B. Adams and Orville R. Butler. Excellent book! I bought mine on eBay. Published in 1999 by Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-65118-2 (hardcover).

  • "Telephone - The First Hundred Years" - The Wondrous Invention that Changed a World and Spawned a Corporate Giant. By John Brooks. First Published in 1976 by Harper & Row, Publishers. ISBN 0-06-010540-2.

  • "Bell Labs - Life in the Crown Jewel" by Narain Gehani. First published in 2003 by Silicon Press.

    "Bell Labs, the greatest research lab of the 20th century, is going through difficult times. The current events at Lucent will have a deep impact on Bell Labs. Gehani talks about Bell Labs with an insider's perspective. He has seen Bell Labs during its best times and during its difficult days. He was at Bell Labs during the monopoly and post monopoly days, and when Lucent was doing great and during its difficult times.

    Gehani’s Bell Labs book is the first book that tells the story of this very famous organization. Bell Labs is part of the heritage of the many of the current and past companies in the telecom industry. People associated with the telephone companies will find this book great reading, historical information of their employer’s glorious past, will get an understanding of the workings of this great institution, how the AT&T divestiture affected it, and the challenges faced by it now.

    Gehani's story of America's national treasure and corporate crown jewel will keep you riveted to reading about a way of life possibly gone forever. To read the book description, click HERE.

  • Technologies of Freedom
    Ithiel de Sola Pool, 1983
    Cambridge: Belknap/Harvard

  • The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T
    Steve Coll, 1986
    New York: Atheneum

  • Signals: The Telephone and Beyond (Revised edition)
    John R. Pierce and Michael A. Noll
    San Francisco: Freeman

  • America Calling: A Social History of the Telephone to 1940
    Claude S. Fischer, 1992
    Berkeley: University of California Press

  • The Telecommunications Revolution: Past, Present and Future
    Sapolsky, Crane, Neuman, and Noam, 1992
    London & New York: Routledge

  • The American Telegrapher: A Social History, 1860 - 1900
    Edwin Gabler, 1988
    New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press

  • The Biggest Company On Earth: A Profile of AT&T
    Sonny Kleinfield, 1981
    New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston

  • I'm Sorry, The Monopoly You Have Reached Is Not In Service. . .
    K. Aubrey Stone, 1973
    New York: Ballantine/Grassroots

  • Monopoly
    Joseph C. Goulden, 1968
    New York: Putnam

  • In One Man's Life: Being Chapters from the Personal and Business Career of Theodore N. Vail
    Albert B. Paine, 1921
    New York: Harper

  • Disconnecting Bell: The Impact of the AT&T Divestiture
    Harry M. Shooshan II (Editor), 1984
    Elmsford, NY: Pergamon Press

  • The Hacker Crackdown: Law and Disorder on the Electronic Frontier
    Bruce Sterling, 1992
    New York: Bantam

  • The First Amendment in the Information Age
    Joel M. Bolstein, 1987
    Washington, D.C.: Freedom of Expression Foundation & The Media Institute

  • The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier
    Howard Rheingold, 1993
    Menlo Park, CA: Addison Wesley

  • The Intelligent Network Task Force Report
    Barbara O'Connor, et al., 1988
    San Francisco: Pacific Bell Consumer Affairs

  • American Tel. & Tel., The Story of a Great Monopoly,
    by Horace Coon, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, 1939.

  • AT&T -- The Story of Industrial Conquest,
    by N. R. Danielian, The Vanguard Press, New York, 1939.

  • The Telephone in a Changing World,
    by Marion May Dilts, Longmans, Green and Co., New York, 1941.

  • Communications in the World of the Future,
    by Hal Hellman, M. Evans and Company, New York, 1969.

  • Alexander Graham Bell,
    by Catherine MacKenzie, Houghton Mifflen Co., Boston and New York, 1928.

  • The Bell Telephone System,
    by Arthur W. Page, Harper & Brothers, New York and London, 1929.

  • In One Man's Life, Biography of Theodore N. Vail,
    by Albert Bigelow Paine, Harper & Brothers, New York and London, 19?9.

  • Beginnings of Telephony,
    by F. L. Rhodes, Harper & Brothers, New York and London, 1929.

  • Views on Public Questions,
    by Theodore N. Vail, privately printed, 1917.

  • For Noteworthy Public Service, The Theodore N. Vail National Awards,
    published by the Bell System, New York, 1950.

  • Exploring Life, The Autobiography of Thomas A. Watson,
    by D. Appleton and Company, New York and London, 1926.

  • The Story of Telecommunications by George Oslin - still in print by the publisher Mercer University Press.  Oslin was the P.R. man for Western Union for a long time, and wrote the book when he was 92 years old and had done a lot of research into telegraph history.  The book suffers from bad editing, but the middle section especially is excellent and contains many interesting stories about Western Union and AT&T.

  •  One Man's Century, also by Oslin, also still in print by M.U. Press. More of an autobiography, but contains a number of interesting W.U. stories.

  • The Telegraph by Lewis Coe, still in print by McFarland & Co.  This is a good complement to the Oslin book as the two books tell different stories about the same topic.  Seems to be written more from a Postal Telegraph Co. perspective.

  • Wireless Radio and The Telephone and its Several Inventors, both also by Lewis Coe, also from McFarland & Co.

  • Old Wires and New Waves by Harlow.  This is an out-of-print and hard to find 1936 book on the history of electrical communication.  Your library may have it.

  • Principles of Electricity Applied to Telephone and Telegraph Work - an AT&T training book, out of print but readily available through the used book network such as  There are several editions: 1938, 1953, 1961 especially.

  • A History of Engineering and Science in the Bell System - also readily available through ABE Books.  There are several volumes, which the booksellers don't always make clear.

  • Engineering and Operations in the Bell System - several printings - ABE Books - hardly a word about TTY, but otherwise a good description of the Bell System, when there was a Bell System.

  • American Telegraphy and Encyclopedia of the Telegraph; Systems, Apparatus, Operation by William Maver Jr.  This is an old (1912) book that was recently reprinted by Lindsay Publications.  Still available.

  • Printing Telegraph Systems and Mechanisms, by H. H. Harrison.  The state of the art in 1923.  ABEBooks has, but they are expensive. Try your library.

  • Teleprinter Switching by Rossberg and Korta.  Mostly about European Telex, but some coverage of other systems.  ABE Books.

  • The Birth and Babyhood of the Telephone - lecture by Thomas A. Watson ABEbooks



  • Telecommunications Primer
    G. Langley, 1983
    London: Pitman

  • Understanding Communications Systems
    Don L. Cannon and Gerald Luecke
    Dallas: Texas Instruments



Bell System Memorial References

AT&T History

Antique Telephones brought to life for modern use

Bell Canada

A History of Telephone Communication

Bell Ringers

Bell Telephone Laboratories History

Bell Telephone Laboratories Timeline

Bell Telephone Pavilion: 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair

Canada Says Hello: The First Century of the Telephone

A Tribute to Telephone Central Offices and the AT&T Long Lines Microwave Network of California

North American Data Communications Museum

Physical Sciences & Communications at Bell Labs

Telephone EXchange Name Project

The Microwave Radio and Coaxial Cable Networks of the Bell System


Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Omaha Works

The History of Telephone Communication


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Bell System Memorial