Bell Labs: Life in the Crown Jewel, chronicles Narain Gehani’s twenty three years at Bell Laboratories. It is a welcome and needed addition to telephone history. Gehani started work in 1978, when the Labs was fully subsidized and owned by AT&T. He left in 2001, after the Lab switched parent companies, split apart many times, and researchers reduced two-thirds.
AT&T’s telephone monopoly generously funded Bell Labs from its 1925 creation until the Bell System’s 1984 divestiture. Each customer’s bill sent something to the Labs; slightly higher rates subsidizing research and development. This excellent arrangement lasted nearly sixty years, Bell Labs contributing mightily to building the world’s best telephone system.