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Bell Telephone Company: Wikis


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Bell System logo used from 1889-1900

The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized on July 9, 1877[1] by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. Bell Telephone was started on the basis of holding "potentially valuable patents", principally Bell's master telephone patent #174465. The two companies merged in February 17, 1879 to form the National Bell Telephone Company,[2] at which time Theodore Vail took over its operations. The National Bell Telephone Company merged with others on March 20, 1880 to form the American Bell Telephone Company.[3]

Upon its inception, the Bell Telephone Company was organized with Hubbard as "trustee", although he was additionally its de facto president since he also controlled his daughter's shares by power of attorney, and with Thomas Sanders as its treasurer.[4]


Predecessor to the Bell Company

The Bell Patent Association (a name later assigned by historians), technically not a corporate entity but a trusteeship and a partnership, was first established verbally in 1874 to be the holders of the patents produced by Bell and his assistant Thomas Watson. Approximately 30% interests were to be held by Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a lawyer and Bell's future father-in-law; Thomas Sanders, the well-to-do leather merchant father of one of Bell's deaf students and who was the first to enter into an agreement with Bell; and finally by Bell himself. The last 10% interest of the association was later assigned to Bell's assistant Thomas Watson, in lieu of salary and his earlier financial support to Bell.

The verbal Patent Association agreement was first formalized in a memorandum of agreement on February 27, 1875.[5] The Patent Association's assets later became the foundational assets of the Bell Telephone Company.[6][7]

Earliest devision of Bell Company shares

At the time of the Bell Telephone Company's organization by Hubbard, who became its trustee and de facto president, as a joint stock company in 1877, 5,000 shares in total were issued for the Bell Telephone Company, also known as the Bell Company, as follows:[8]

  • Alexander Graham Bell (inventor): 1,497 shares
  • Gardiner Greene Hubbard (trustee and president): 1,397 shares
  • Gertrude McC. Hubbard: 100 shares
  • Charles E. Hubbard: 10 shares
  • Thomas Sanders (treasurer): 1497 shares
  • Thomas Watson (operations): 499 shares

Two days after the company's formation, on July 11, 1877, Bell married Hubbard's daughter Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, Bell made a wedding gift of 1,487 shares of his allotment to his new wife, keeping only 10 shares for himself. Bell and his wife left soon after for a tour of Europe that lasted over a year, during which time Mabel left her shares with her father under a power of attorney.

Acquisition by AT&T

The American Bell Telephone Company was later purchased by its own subsidiary, American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) on December 30, 1899 in order to allow for further growth due to capitalization limits in Massachusetts. John Elbridge Hudson joined Bell Telephone as counsel in 1880 and served as president from 1889 to 1900. AT&T would later undergo mergers with SBC Communications and BellSouth to become the New AT&T.

See also


  1. ^ Pizer 2009, pp.123-124
  2. ^ Pizer 2009, pgs.119, 125
  3. ^ Pizer 2009, pg.125
  4. ^ Pizer 2009, pg.127
  5. ^ Pizer 2009, pg.122
  6. ^ Bruce 1990, pg.291
  7. ^ Pizer 2009, pp.120-124
  8. ^ Pizer 2009, pg.124

Further readings



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