Inside Bell Labs: Excitement On The Bench; Concern on High

Inside Bell Labs: Excitement On The Bench; Concern On High AUTHOR: SHARON BEGLEY Date: September 05, 1988 Researchers have never felt freer, but some lab heads and a prominent former manager see major changes since divestiture The stockholder was annoyed. Why, he demanded, was AT&T paying Thomas Gradel, a middle-aged scientist, to tromp around the Jungles of Brazil studying ants, when the dollars could be better used to fatten up Bell’s notoriously meager dividends? The irate stoc

Sharon Begley
Sep 4, 1988

Inside Bell Labs: Excitement On The Bench;

Concern On High
AUTHOR: SHARON BEGLEY
Date: September 05, 1988
Researchers have never felt freer, but some lab heads and a prominent former manager see major changes since divestiture

The stockholder was annoyed. Why, he demanded, was AT&T paying Thomas Gradel, a middle-aged scientist, to tromp around the Jungles of Brazil studying ants, when the dollars could be better used to fatten up Bell’s notoriously meager dividends? The irate stockholder might equally well have asked about J. Anthony Tyson the astronomer on AT&T’s payroll who ricochet, between observatories in Hawaii and Chile to peer at galaxies at the far reaches of the universe. The answer is that their employer believes in the promise of long-term payoffs provided by basic research endeavors such theirs, despite the long-term investment they require.

That, of course, has been the conventional wisdom about Bell Labs. For 62 years...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?