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  AT&T Long Lines- The Bell System Unit For Nationwide and Worldwide Communications (Looking Ahead)
 
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AT&T Long Lines

"Long Lines"
The Bell System Unit For Nationwide
and Worldwide Communications

Looking Ahead


Table of Contents Chapter Links:


The strong thread that ties the Bell System together is teamwork...the careful intermeshing of research and development at Bell Laboratories, manufacture and supply at Western Electric, and service to the public by Long Lines and the associated companies.

What it all adds up to is the best communications service in the world. And it didn't just happen that way it was planned to be the best.

We're planning now to make sure it will be the best in the years ahead. Working closely together will become increasingly important in the future. Society will continue to grow in complexity, new technologies will emerge, and the communications needs of our customers will undergo fundamental changes.


The Changing World of Communications

In the years ahead the business will be operating in a climate of rapid, radical change. To keep pace, communications will become increasingly versatile. There will be no artificial lines drawn between voice, visual and data communications. Instead, the customer will have at his disposal a universal, integrated communications service that is, a service that will enable him to talk, hear, see, write, examine documents or manipulate machines over great distances.

The catalyst is the computer Here's why:

The complexity of modern life demands application of computers to help
us solve our problems;

-- computers demand communications;

for human convenience, information must be made available in various forms. For instance, we may want to hear it or we may want to read it. We may also want to write back to the computer, to talk back-perhaps to draw pictures back.

All this points to one universal network with the flexibility to handle all kinds of communications on demand.

Forecasters and long-range planners predict that computers and communications will bring about major changes in the business world and in our everyday life.

The transportation field is one example. Supersonic planes that carry hundreds of passengers at a cruising speed of 1,800 miles an hour will usher in a big increase in travel. In communications terms this will mean, among other things, transmitting enormous volumes of data to and from a centralized computer for flight plans, weather information, reservations and other purposes. Passengers in flight will be able to dial their own telephone calls to home or office just as they now do on the ground. Visual communications also will be used. For instance, ground crew experts required to maintain and repair supersonic planes at major airports most likely will be trained remotely by sight and sound from a central overhaul base.

Banking arrangements will be different, too. Commands sent over communications lines to computers will handle most of the machinery of charging, paying and transferring credits from one account to another. People will no longer have to write and mail pieces of paper called checks.

Forecasters also expect time-sharing of computers to grow into a thriving business. They point out that with such systems the terminals of small firms across the country can be connected to the computer of an organization formed to serve them, like a service bureau or trade association. That will give smaller firms the advantage of a large computer at low cost, and enable them to compete effectively with large firms in their industry.

And, they add, the use of computer time-sharing won't stop there. Ultimately, worldwide computer networks will provide scholars, scientists and others with instant sources of all known and recorded data on any conceivable subject.

Apart from computer applications, other developments will make far-reaching changes in how we do things. As one example, the expansion of Picturephone® service which will not only produce close-ups but also project images 20, 30 or more feet away from the phone--will have a strong impact, particularly on the business community.

The addition of sight to sound-and ultimately three dimensional images will add an important new element to business communications. It will help make the people, policies and personality of a business come alive. It will give managers, regardless of their location, better and quicker numerical and pictorial information. In this way, new depths of understanding will be added to the management function, which will mean sounder decisions on fundamental business matters.


Tools For Service

Meeting radical changes will demand new facilities and systems as well as the further development of existing ones.

A new tool with great promise is digital transmission, a system that converts all forms of information into streams of pulses and handles them at much higher speeds than could be accomplished before. The pulses of one message are interwoven with pulses of other messages to get maximum use out of each line.

Because it can handle great volumes of information, the digital system should help overcome some of the difficult cost problems in providing certain services. And that will enable us to bring to the market a whole range of technical capabilities in communications at prices that millions can afford.

Another tool with a powerful potential is the laser. Coupled with sophisticated microwave and electronics techniques, it is expected one day to provide superhighways for communications between major population centers. Laser communications will be capable of carrying hundreds of thousands of telephone circuits on a single beam of light.

The long distance communications business is. steadily growing, and the needs of customers are changing. At the same time, developments in technology are coming quickly.

We will be able to make the most of growth and change because of the forward-looking, dedicated people who are the life of our business. Working together, they are making sure now that the business will achieve still greater progress in the years ahead.


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