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

Re: AT&T Licensed the Transistor For Free

Jen Saylor (jen7saylor@no.spam)
Thu, 19 May 2005 00:16:20 -0400 wrote:

> 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.

You seem misinformed. Yes, AT&T allowed other companies to "borrow"
the transistor invention, but they didn't do this with a smile on
their face. It was one of the many concessions made during one the
many antitrust concerns. AT&T was kind of in a bind with antitrust
concerns due to the technology and markets at the time and were stuck
between breaking up the company or continuing to make such deals --
which were short lived. The government had plenty of antitrust actions
with AT&T over the years before the last antitrust case which of
course ended in 1983. If AT&T had kept the rights to the transister,
it would probably be a completely different company today -- that's
how big that one invention was.

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