TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: AT&T Licensed the Transistor For Free

Re: AT&T Licensed the Transistor For Free

Tony P. (
Wed, 18 May 2005 18:01:04 -0400

In article <>,

> From time to time critics of the old Bell System gripe that the
> company was "guaranted profits" by the regulators and as such, owed
> something back to the community.

> Aside from the fact that regulation actually limited profits, AT&T was
> indeed required to give things back. One of which was the rights to
> its invention of the transistor, which were available free of charge.
> (Per Ziff-Davis history).

> I had always wondered why AT&T never seemed to make any money from the
> invention of the transistor.

> I presume other Bell Labs patents were also available free; indeed, I
> never knew of AT&T making money from licensing its many inventions.
> It appears patents were more for freedom of use than profit. IBM
> adopted a similar policy in the 1950s. Both did so from anti-trust
> settlements.

Hmmm ... among other things they pretty much gave away:


Fiber Optics

And a host of other inventions, many of which I'm using at the moment
as I reply to this.

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