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Science Technology

The AT&T Archives Post-SBC Merger? 159

Posted by Zonk
from the technological-history dept.
mrfantasy writes "An article in the Newark, NJ Star-Ledge discusses the possible fate of the AT&T Archives, which is a huge, irreplaceable historical repository of most of the advancements of late 19th and 20th century communications. Corporate archives are often casualties of companies when they are subsumed by a parent organization. The archives include such things as long-distance telephone directories from the mid-1890s, containing every long distance subscriber in the country, including Alexander Graham Bell himself; and a microphone from Warren Harding's 1921 inauguration, the first heard by the crowd thanks to AT&T amplification equipment."
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The AT&T Archives Post-SBC Merger?

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  • by Black-Man (198831) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @11:49PM (#11664669)
    When I worked for AT&T, one could go to Murray Hill and it would be an educational experience. No "business requirement" needed. It was like a university setting where one went to learn from the masters.

    Now... the masters are gone. The company as it was is gone. Who cares?

  • Are they online? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BossMC (696762) on Sunday February 13, 2005 @11:49PM (#11664675) Homepage
    *fires up wget -r*
  • Smithsonian? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JeffSh (71237) <jeffslashdot@@@m0m0...org> on Sunday February 13, 2005 @11:51PM (#11664681)
    Sounds like the perfect archive of "stuff" you might expect to see in the smithsonian? /shrug
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @12:30AM (#11664884)
    I wouldn't trust serious archiving to Brewster. He's a great guy, but you don't want him in charge of crucial data.

    Signed,
    Former Archive guy
  • by whizistic (33541) on Monday February 14, 2005 @12:53AM (#11665015) Homepage
    Having been at the San Francisco SBC museum a few weeks ago, (located in the Bell building at 140 New Montgomery, open 10AM-2PM Mon-Thurs) I can candidly say it sucked elephant nuts through nanopore straws. The volunteer mentioned that most of the good stuff went to the archives when a consultant curator came through and turned it into a museum rather than the collection of interactive exhibits it was before. It used to be cool, now it's basically a couple phone books from 1919, a princess phone, and half a frame from 1936. So, yes, SBC == Slash and Burn Corporation.
  • by xtermin8 (719661) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:01AM (#11665066)
    "Why wouldn't SBC value these archives?" Why would anyone burn the Library of Alexandria? Expect the worst, hope for the best.
  • by bjbest (808259) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:08AM (#11665094)
    ... deep, deep, inside, is a copy of the infamous ( mythical ? ) issue of the Bell Technical Journal that described the operator-assited long distance dialing mechanism, and how easily it could be defeated. It gave rise to the "phone phreaks" and "blue box" devices in the 1960's, and rest is hacker history.
  • by bigt_littleodd (594513) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:25AM (#11665168)
    That's what the Smithsonian is for. If Congress approves, and they are allowed to get their hands on the goodies, and they deem the items preservation-worthy, they will.

    The life and times of AT&T is an integral part of 20th century US history. If SBC is stupid enough to send that history to the garbage pile, then SBC must be destroyed as well because they would have done a great disservice to posterity.

    Mission statement from the SI website [si.edu]:

    Secretary Small's Vision

    "The Smithsonian is committed to enlarging our shared understanding of the mosaic that is our national identity by providing authoritative experiences that connect us to our history and our heritage as Americans and to promoting innovation, research and discovery in science. These commitments have been central to the Smithsonian since its founding more than 155 years ago."

    Lawrence M. Small, Secretary of the Smithsonian

    If you are ever in the Washington DC area, try to visit the Smithsonian Instution if you can. Know that you can spend an entire day in just one or two buildings devoted to just a few subjects.

    The National Air and Space Museum is the most popular of all the Smithsonian buildings. Plan on a full day there. If you can't make it downtown but fly into Washington Dulles, the Udvar-Hazy Annex of the A&S is on Dulles' property. Plan on at least 4 hours there if you want see most of it.

    Okay, getting a little OT there. So sue me.

  • by mattdm (1931) on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:35AM (#11665217) Homepage
    Interesting. But your link has (at least) a factual error of its own -- Edison's electric chair didn't use DC. His own systems used DC, and he wanted to show that Tesla's AC was horribly dangerous -- so, basically, he made the thing run on AC as a marketting ploy [economist.com].
  • SBC a HELLl-hole (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @01:45AM (#11665245)
    I did a contract at SBC, and it was a mess. They would not cover the costs of some basic but necessary office supplies. The place was full of H1B's rented from small fly-by-night shops who they knew they could pressure into long hours because the H1B's couldn't sue without deportation risks, and the management was chaotic and jittery. It was Big Company Hell at its worse. It was a souless place.
  • by mnbjhguyt (449178) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:15AM (#11665733)
    I'm very amazed by you giving so much credit on the history books you've read. Actually, history books change a lot in different countries.

    Every italian history book always treated Meucci as the inventor of the phone, followed closely in time by Bell (much like Daimler and Benz for the car), but when i was an exchange student in the US, nobody ever heard of him.

    Also, i remember the history books and teachers in high school stressing a lot the fact that basically everything was invented by americans: motion pictures were Edison's invention, for example (whatever happened to the Lumiere brothers?), and i had a strong argument with the history teacher, who claimed that pizza was an american dish.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @05:00AM (#11665855)
    I've met this [johnlarue.net] guy, my friend has been out to his private phone museum in California. It looks like he has lots of old relics, he's getting alot of them up and running too.

    When I met him, he had me call a certain number at his museum with my cell phone, and some kind of device picked up and just gave me a speaker in one of the rooms. Then he called another number with his phone and I could here a mechanical line switcher in the room going to work. Was interesting.

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