Care to take a walk inside your home—the living room, study, kitchen, bedroom—and look around? List the numbers of gadgets. Telephone? Television? Radio, stereo, CD player, DVD, speakers? Personal computer and digital camera? The latest in laptops and wireless telephony? Now think what makes them tick. At the heart of almost every electronic device is the transistor. It was invented at Bell Labs. Digital Signal Processor (DSP), the engine of today’s multimedia revolution, drives everything from phones, DVD players to video games and digital cameras: invented at Bell. Laser? A Bell invention. Communication satellite? Bell again. PCs? Unix, the operating system that drives the computers, and C and C++, the programming languages, came from Bell. Broadband communications and data networking? The original technologies came from Bell. Telephone? Sure rings a Bell! Fax and Modem? Beeeeepschruuurrrrrrwwww. Touchtone telephone, 1-800 numbers and cellular telephony? Beep Beep Beep. There isn’t an aspect of our gadgety, fidgety life that doesn’t ring Bell. No wonder the hoary New Jersey Lab, child of AT&T, sibling of Lucent, father of Agere, Avaya and scores of other start-ups, retains the bragging rights for being the mother lode of inventions. To date, it has recorded over 31,000 patents. Scientists and researchers who’ve passed through its portals are said to be responsible for 40,000 inventions. "The average home," crows a promotional flyer, "contains at least 25 products that can trace their roots back to Bell Labs innovations." Except perhaps for your grandfather clock, it’s all Ding Dong Bell.
But who put them in?