[TUHS] V7 Addendem [ really lawyers and AT&T consent decree ]

Jon Steinhart jon at fourwinds.com
Thu Dec 7 04:49:11 AEST 2017

Clem Cole writes:
> On Wed, Dec 6, 2017 at 11:15 AM, Jon Steinhart <jon at fourwinds.com> wrote:
> >    Can't answer your question directly, but I think that some of this was
> >    the result of the prior consent decree banning them from being in the
> >    data business.  I seem to recall that it was technically illegal for
> >    them to sell SW and don't know how giving it away would have been viewed.
> I really think Jon is correct here.  The behavior was all left over from the
> 1956 consent decree, which settled the 1949 anti-trust case against AT&T.
> As the recipients of the AT&T IP, we used to refer the behavior as "UNIX was
> abandoned on your doorstep."  Throughout the 60s and 70s, the AT&T sr
> management from the CEO on down, were terrified of another anti-trust case. 
> And of course they got one and we all know what judge Green did to resolve that
> in 1980.
> I described the activities/actions in detail in my paper: "UNIX: A View from
> the Field as We Played the Game" which I gave last fall in Paris.  The
> proceeding are supposed to go on line at some point.  Send me email if you want
> the details and I'll send you a PDF.   I'm holding off cutting and pasting here
> for reasons of brevity.  For an legal analysis I also recommend: “AT&T
> Divestiture & the Telecommunications Market”, John Pinheiro, Berkeley Technical
> Law Journal, 303, September 1987, Volume 2, Issue 2, Article 5 which I cite in
> my paper.
> Clem

There's another aspect of this that I think that many people misunderstand
which is that Judge Green gave AT&T exactly what they wanted.  AT&T knew
that in the future the money was in data and were willing to trade their
monopoly for that business.  From their perspective, it worked.  For the
rest of us, not so good.

Some of us remember the days in which phones were reliable and you could
understand the person on the other end.  Or when your phone lasted 60+
years.  Or the current debate about whether it's ok to eliminate exchange
powered phones that work in an emergency.

During the primaries when Ted Cruz would stand up and hold a dial phone
and say "this is what government regulation got you" I always thought
"Yeah, give me more of that.  It's 60 years old, still works better than
what you can get today, and if you hurl it across the room it'll still
work which is more than you can say for anything made post-split."

Not to mention it ended one of the best research labs in history.


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