Bell Shaped Heads

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Jim Dick

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Hi Smoky,

Yep, 32 years with Southern New England Telephone. One of the only two independents that were part of the Bell System. Had to throw away a lot of hats after I left since my head regained it's natural shape. ;D ;D ;D
 

Smoky

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I remember SNET very well.  Met a number of interesting folk from SNET during my travels.  I had a general impression that the SNETers were pretty free thinking and creative folks.
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Smoky,

Yes, SNET was a free thinking company but it did get us in trouble on occasion. I guess before I started with them they went against a Ma Bell recommendation and had a very difficult time obtaining financing from them.

We developed Lightnet, one of the first Fiber Optic systems that utilized the CSX rail right of way from Maine to FL and out to Chicago. Finally sold it to Wiltel.

We also had one of the first fiber to the customer systems in the country. It didn't go to each house but did terminate in local area.

As a tech I spent a lot of time in Richardson, TX at Rockwell International for training on microwave radio and fiber optic systems. As a Maintenance Engineer for microwave and fiber I spent a lot of time at BSCTE.
 

Smoky

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I am trying now to remember the other "independent" Bell system company.  Was it Cincinnati's Bell?  As I recall they were a separate company from the fully owned Ohio Bell (which became part of SBC).
 

N Smock

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Smoky


You are correct Cinn. was the in the class with SNET.

Still don't think Judge Green made the right decision. I often wonder if he contmplates the results of his actions. Maybe if AT&T had just dumped Long Lines and maybe WECO they could have worked a deal with Justice.

Nelson
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Nelson,

I agree Judge Green really screwed things up especially for older folks. I'm sure some development in new technologies was advanced sooner but the problems the breakup caused sure hurt the system.
 

Phil

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N Smock said:
Still don't think Judge Green made the right decision. I often wonder if he contmplates the results of his actions. Maybe if AT&T had just dumped Long Lines and maybe WECO they could have worked a deal with Justice.

AT&T was a vertically integrated company with too much market power.  Justice requested AT&T to divest WECO and not do any manufacturing.  AT&T would keep LL and the operating companies.

AT&T refused the deal and said they would give up the operating companies in order to keep WECO, Yellow Pages and the Bell logo.

Judge Greene let AT&T keep WECO but not the logo and not Yellow Pages.

IMO it was AT&T that screwed up.

Phil
 

caltex

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As an employee of DATRAN (Data Transmission Company) I was on the other side of the powerhouse of Bell. We struggled to bring new technology to the market, but failed to survive.  A lot of our own problems, but also a lot of being leaned on by Ma Bell. We spent a lot of time on the court actions that finally brought about the breakup of the Bell monoply. Probably spend as much on legal fees as operating cost.
 

Smoky

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I see more intrigue in what happened than is generally accepted.  While AT&T may have screwed up as a company, the executives did not.  They all parceled themselves out to various operating and HQ companies and set up their golden parachutes.  Some use their parachutes right away and some, like Bell Atlantic's Ray Smith, waited ten years or more to pull the string.    But all of them landed safely in a comfy patch.  I do not know of a single officer level executive who is not living the good life today in one form or another.  ;D

I do know however, that pre divestiture, the Bell System was a terrific place to work!
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky,

You are correct about the execs. Even ours made sure they were well off before leaving.

The Bell System was a great place to work when I started back in the '60s. Many of the people I knew had other relatives workiing, usually sons or daughters or fathers and mothers, because it was more of a family than just a business. Dedication of the techs was much deeper than it will ever be again. That picture of the "spirit of service" was alive and well into the 70s but I feel it's pretty much gone now.

I just read where Cingular, who just purchased AT&T, is now going to drop the Cingular name and keep the AT&T name!
 

Phil

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Jim Dick said:
You are correct about the execs. Even ours made sure they were well off before leaving.

Darn Right!  :)

Phil
 

Smoky

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Jim:

You and I must have started at about the same time.? My first year of service began in 1963.

And you are right, it was like being in a family.? My Dad worked for the Bell System in PA for about ten years before becoming a school teacher.

I always liked the three legged stool analogy they used about what supports a business.? They said you had to take care of the shareowners, the employees and the customers.? If any single one of those legs got into trouble, the entire stool would fall over.

I also loved the Angus Macdonald picture of the lineman in the snow.? It truly epitomized the Spirit of Service.? Who ever talks about such things in today;'s business world?
 

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Jim Dick

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Smoky,

I started in April, 1964 after 4 years in the Navy. Left in March of 1996. The first 20 years were really great. Then upper management became more concerned with their own future than that of the company. The family feeling was gone. One meeting I attended after being a supervisor for several years opened my eyes. Our president stood in front of the whole management team, many of whom had at least as much time as I did, and told us they did not expect to see 30 year employees in the future!! Since I had 31 years in I decided it might be time to think about leaving. Fortunately it wasn't long after that they came up with an offer and I took it. Never looked back. :)

We had that picture of the Spirit of Service in many of our buildings. It was a constant reminder of who we were and what we needed to do. I remember a couple of big winter storms where many businesses told the employees to stay home. In 32 years that only happened to me once and it was because I was in headquarters in maintenance engineering and the governor had officially closed the roads in the state. Those in the field still had to report to work. It did make the commute a lot less hectic. :)
 

Jim Godward

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Smoky,

>>I also loved the Angus Macdonald picture of the lineman in the snow.<<

When I was up on a pole, working 12,000 volts-hot, about 10 degrees and it started snowing,, I decided I would go back to school and get an inside job!? VBG

Never regretted it even though I lost my deferment and had to go in the service.? Made the most of that by going to electronics school and enjoyed 3 years of mostly fun.? G

 

Jim Dick

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Jim,

Though Angus McDonald's painting once of a lineman the spirit continued inside the walls of the buildings. :)
 

Smoky

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Jim:

"Our president stood in front of the whole management team, many of whom had at least as much time as I did, and told us they did not expect to see 30 year employees in the future!! "

I had the same experience.  This happened at about the same time they began talking about possible benefit changes.  They got focused on the idea of "portable" pensions and such, because they said the modern worker would move from company to company every 3 or 4 years.  It all sounded bizarre to me, and when I began separating the wheat from the chaff and began reading between the lines, what I concluded was that the company wanted to tinker with one of the most robust pension funds in the history of business.  This led to my decision to take an early retirement after 30 years service. I calculated what I would receive with early retirement bonuses at age 52 and found I would have to work until I was age 63 to simply break even.  I had always planned to retire at age 55, so it was a no brainer for me. 

When I look back, God must have been guiding me.  I was able to invest the extra money I received into the 1992 stock market, which at that time was just beginning to explode.  And within a year Bell Atlantic eliminated the lucrative early retirment offers.  Glad I made the break when I did.  Now I no longer recognize Verizon as even remotely similar to the company I retired from.  I still worry that they will somehow find a way to cut retirees loose, but so far that has not happened thank goodness.

Re the Spirit of Service painting... it certainly was real inside the walls of any Bell System building.  I can still remember blizzards where it took people half a day to struggle through the elements to arrive at work, only to turn around and struggle back home.  Some young people would say that was a complete waste of energy and was unsafe.  Our generation would say it was pride in the Spirit of Service.
 

Jim Dick

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Smoky,

Sounds like we both lucked out though you got to invest a little sooner than I did. :) I'm afraid all companies are starting to think in the same way. Now that two corporations have dropped employee retirement funds and forced the government to make them good more will be joining that outrage. It's really a shame they were allowed to abandon folks that are barely making it as it is. Soon our own government will say the fund is going broke and we need to drop it. I'm just thankful I'm not starting out in the workaday world today!

Verizon isn't the same company that it was two years ago when it comes to cellular! Now you can no longer tether your computer to the cell phone unless you have been grandfathered. Many of us have upgraded a phone or changed our monthly minute package for free not knowing VZW would then change your contract. I'm not sure what I'll go when my contract is up in '07. I'll bet none of them will brave the blizzard to get to work!!!
 
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