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Bell Labs - Famous Inventor

: Bell Labs
: 1925
: United States
: Research and Scientific Development of Information technology
: Research and Scientific Development

About Inventor

Bell Labs is a research and scientific development company that belongs to Alcatel-Lucent. Its headquarters are located in Murray Hill, New Jersey, in addition to other laboratories around the rest of the United States and in other countries.


The historic laboratory originated in the late 19th century as the Volta Laboratory and Bureau created by Alexander Graham Bell. Bell Labs was also at one time a division of the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T Corporation), half-owned through its Western Electric manufacturing subsidiary.

Researchers working at Bell Labs are credited with the development of radio astronomy, the transistor, the laser, the charge-coupled device (CCD), information theory, the UNIX operating system, the C programming language, S programming language and the C++ programming language. Eight Nobel Prizes have been awarded for work completed at Bell Laboratories.


In 1880, the French government awarded Alexander Graham Bell the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs, approximately US$10,000 at that time (about $250,000 in current dollars) for the invention of the telephone. Bell used the award to found the Volta Laboratory (Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory) in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with Sumner Tainter and Bell's cousin Chichester Bell.The laboratory is also variously known as the Volta Bureau, the Bell Carriage House, the Bell Laboratory and the Volta Laboratory. The laboratory focused on the analysis, recording, and transmission of sound. Bell used his considerable profits from the laboratory for further research and education to permit the "[increased] diffusion of knowledge relating to the deaf".This resulted in the founding of the Volta Bureau c. 1887, located at Bell's father's house at 1527 35th Street in Washington, D.C., where its carriage house became their headquarters in 1889.In 1893, Bell constructed a new building, close by at 1537 35th St., specifically to house the lab.The building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1972.

Shaping an Emergent Industry

Bell Labs has its roots in the consolidation of several engineering departments within the American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) company and the Western Electric company, the manufacturing organization for the Bell System. These departments had been tasked with overcoming the day-to-day engineering challenges of building a national communications network. But as large parts of that network were deployed and the emerging telephone business took hold in the 1920s, attention increasingly turned to exploring fundamental areas of science likely to shape the future of the industry.

As a result, about 4,000 of these scientists and engineers were assigned to a newly created Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc. in 1925, and were to be fully dedicated to such research. In 1934, AT&T’s Development and Research Department, which had been devoted to bridging the gap between laboratory research and the operations of communication systems, was integrated into Bell Laboratories. Growth continued as engineers from development departments were also folded into Bell Laboratories.

Adapting to Changing Market Dynamics

Significant changes occurred in 1984 when, as a consequence of a divestiture agreement with the U.S. Government, AT&T Corporation divested itself of its local exchange companies and the Bell System as it was known ceased to exist. As part of the divestiture agreement, AT&T Technologies assumed the business of Western Electric and Bell Laboratories. Concurrently, several thousand Bell Laboratories employees were split off to form Bellcore, the organization established to provide research and technical functions for the newly independent local exchange carriers.

In 1996, AT&T spun off most of Bell Laboratories and its equipment manufacturing business into Lucent Technologies, Inc. (AT&T retained a smaller number of researchers to form AT&T Laboratories.) As part of this transition, most development departments were integrated into the business divisions of Lucent Technologies in order to more effectively manage the business in what was now a competitive market. The research functions remained within Bell Laboratories. In 2007, a year after the merger of Lucent Technologies and Alcatel (forming Alcatel-Lucent), Alcatel’s Research and Innovations organization and Bell Laboratories were combined into a single organization.

Building on a Core Research Model

The continuous and remarkable record of accomplishments by Bell Laboratories across so many different domains is among the reasons why it is often regarded as the canonical industrial research organization. Today, Bell Laboratories, or as it is more commonly known, Bell Labs, exists as an organization within Alcatel-Lucent and is no longer a separate legal entity. However, the culture and research model that took shape during its formative years, and which have frequently been adopted by other institutions, continue to remain at the very core of Bell Labs to this day.

Awards Received by Inventor

On May 20, 2014, Bell Labs announced the Bell Labs Prize, a competition for innovators to offer proposals in information and communications technologies, with cash awards of up to $100,000 for the grand prize.


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