Monday, November 9, 2015

A vision for Bell Labs

From the start, Jewett and Arnold seemed to agree that at West Street there could be an indistinctness about goals. Who could know in advance exactly what practical applications Arnold's men would devise? Moreover, which of these ideas would ultimately move from the research department into the development department and then mass production at Western Electric? At the same time, they were clear about larger goals. The Bell Labs employees would be investigating anything remotely related to human communications, whether it be conducted through wires or radio or recorded sound or visual images. . . . An industrial lab [Frank Jewett] said, "is merely an organization of intelligent men, presumably of creative capacity, specially trained in a knowledge of the things and methods of science, and provided with the facilities and wherewithal to study and develop the particular industry with which they are associated."
Jon Gertner, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation (New York: Penguin, 2012), p. 32

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