The strong thread that ties the Bell System together is teamwork...the
careful intermeshing of research and development at Bell Laboratories,
manufacture and supply at Western Electric, and service to the public by Long
Lines and the associated companies.
What it all adds up to is the best communications service in the world. And it
didn't just happen that way it was planned to be the best.
We're planning now to make sure it will be the best in the years ahead. Working
closely together will become increasingly important in the future. Society will
continue to grow in complexity, new technologies will emerge, and the
communications needs of our customers will undergo fundamental changes.
The Changing World of Communications
In the years ahead the business will be operating in a climate of rapid,
radical change. To keep pace, communications will become increasingly versatile.
There will be no artificial lines drawn between voice, visual and data
communications. Instead, the customer will have at his disposal a universal,
integrated communications service that is, a service that will enable him to
talk, hear, see, write, examine documents or manipulate machines over great
The catalyst is the computer Here's why:
The complexity of modern life demands application of computers to help
us solve our problems;
-- computers demand communications;
for human convenience, information must be made available in various forms. For
instance, we may want to hear it or we may want to read it. We may also want to
write back to the computer, to talk back-perhaps to draw pictures back.
All this points to one universal network with the flexibility to handle all
kinds of communications on demand.
Forecasters and long-range planners predict that computers and communications
will bring about major changes in the business world and in our everyday life.
The transportation field is one example. Supersonic planes that carry hundreds
of passengers at a cruising speed of 1,800 miles an hour will usher in a big
increase in travel. In communications terms this will mean, among other things,
transmitting enormous volumes of data to and from a centralized computer for
flight plans, weather information, reservations and other purposes. Passengers
in flight will be able to dial their own telephone calls to home or office just
as they now do on the ground. Visual communications also will be used. For
instance, ground crew experts required to maintain and repair supersonic planes
at major airports most likely will be trained remotely by sight and sound from a
central overhaul base.
Banking arrangements will be different, too. Commands sent over communications
lines to computers will handle most of the machinery of charging, paying and
transferring credits from one account to another. People will no longer have to
write and mail pieces of paper called checks.
Forecasters also expect time-sharing of computers to grow into a thriving
business. They point out that with such systems the terminals of small firms
across the country can be connected to the computer of an organization formed to
serve them, like a service bureau or trade association. That will give smaller
firms the advantage of a large computer at low cost, and enable them to compete
effectively with large firms in their industry.
And, they add, the use of computer time-sharing won't stop there. Ultimately,
worldwide computer networks will provide scholars, scientists and others with
instant sources of all known and recorded data on any conceivable subject.
Apart from computer applications, other developments will make far-reaching
changes in how we do things. As one example, the expansion of Picturephone®
service which will not only produce close-ups but also project images 20, 30 or
more feet away from the phone--will have a strong impact, particularly on the
The addition of sight to sound-and ultimately three dimensional images will add
an important new element to business communications. It will help make the
people, policies and personality of a business come alive. It will give
managers, regardless of their location, better and quicker numerical and
pictorial information. In this way, new depths of understanding will be added
to the management function, which will mean sounder decisions on fundamental
Meeting radical changes will demand new facilities and systems as well as
the further development of existing ones.
A new tool with great promise is digital transmission, a system that converts
all forms of information into streams of pulses and handles them at much higher
speeds than could be accomplished before. The pulses of one message are
interwoven with pulses of other messages to get maximum use out of each line.
Because it can handle great volumes of information, the digital system should
help overcome some of the difficult cost problems in providing certain services.
And that will enable us to bring to the market a whole range of technical
capabilities in communications at prices that millions can afford.
Another tool with a powerful potential is the laser. Coupled with sophisticated
microwave and electronics techniques, it is expected one day to provide
superhighways for communications between major population centers. Laser
communications will be capable of carrying hundreds of thousands of telephone
circuits on a single beam of light.
The long distance communications business is. steadily growing, and the needs of
customers are changing. At the same time, developments in technology are coming
We will be able to make the most of growth and change because of the
forward-looking, dedicated people who are the life of our business. Working
together, they are making sure now that the business will achieve still greater
progress in the years ahead.
NEXT: Glossary - Bibliography