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The Rape of Ma Bell

The Criminal Wrecking of the Best
Telephone System in the World

Ó1988 Lyle Stuart, Inc. - Secaucus, New Jersey

ALFRED W. DUERIG and CONSTANTINE RAYMOND KRAUS

(Also see "A Voice in the Wilderness" book review at end of this page)

A BOOK REVIEW

the_rape_of_ma_bell.jpg (28050 bytes)

Available from Amazon.com, Inc.

Highly recommend buying this book if you can find it in a used book store or online source for used books.  If you are unable to find a copy in the used marketplace, you may download the PDF version which was created from a hardbound copy of the book with permission of the author, Al Duerig. Click HERE to download.

If you are a serious Bell System person like I am (we call ourselves "Bell Heads"), then this is a must for your collection.

Book cover summary:

"This is the story of the unwarranted and criminal dismantling of a company which offered the American people the best telephone service in the world. As a result of actions by the Federal government bureaucracy, the world's largest company has been dismembered, assets deliberately destroyed, our national defense weakened, and our international economic position damaged-a debacle that has cost the American public as much as $800 billion dollars in the last 20 years.

Parts of this story have been told by corporate executives, lawyers, economists and public officials, each with different viewpoints and emphases. Little has been heard from telephone engineers-who built, operated, and, under court orders, dismantled this communications network. This book is written by two such engineers, whose combined careers span half the time between Bell's invention and the present, and who worked in the mainstream of the events described.

The Rape of Ma Bell explores the past, present and future of our nation's communications system. It describes the telephone's invention and early history, and life in the Bell System as it was <in 1978>, then traces the events-crimes according to many- of almost 20 years that led to Bell's demise.

It deals as well with the chaotic and costly situation that resulted and how this has affected the telecommunications industry, the telephone customer, the national defense and our international position. And it looks at the fabulous future available to modern technology and offers suggestions as to what steps should be taken in light of what has already happened. The authors have also provided a short course for the layman in a few of the main concepts underlying modern communications technology.

Constantine Raymond Kraus has spent much of his working life as an engineer and administrator with the Bell System. He has been intimately connected with every facet of communications. When he retired from Bell, he founded and headed Consulting Communications Engineers, Inc., of Villanova, bringing together a brain trust of 200 retired scientists and engineers representing 6,000 years of experience and 500 patents. The 20-year-old company has worked for both government and industry. Mr. Kraus also edits the CC E Newsletter which has a wide circulation in the industry.

Alfred W Duerig was employed by the Bell Telephone Company of Pennsylvania for thirty-seven years; during the last seventeen he headed the engineering department. Before that he served in the United States Navy in various communications positions. He is a registered professional engineer and also a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
"


A Voice in the Wilderness

by Alfred W. Duerig - 1996

A BOOK REVIEW

Available from Amazon.com, Inc.

"This book is dedicated to the memory of Constantine Raymond Kraus, a lifelong crusader for competence and integrity in industry and government; and also to the  hundreds of thousands of men and women who devoted much of their lives striving for the same goals in the former Bell System." - Alfred W. Duerig

Title of book taken from a cover letter Ray used for his newsletters where he says, "Against my desires, I am being placed in a position similar to that of Billy Mitchell, Goddard, and Rickover.  I am a lone voice crying out in a wilderness of ignorance, greed, and dishonesty."

Before presenting my book review of "A Voice in the Wilderness", I would like to present some background information on how I found out about this second publication and some information on the co-authors that wrote "The Rape of Ma Bell", Constantine Raymond Kraus (hereafter referred to as "Ray"), and Alfred W. Duerig (hereafter referred to as "Al"),

Al sent an email to me on November 2, 2001 after he had discovered this website.  He presented me with some interesting background on how these books came into being.

Al and Ray had just finished writing "The Rape of Ma Bell" in 1988 when Ray asked Al if he would consider writing a "technical biography" on Ray.  Ray said he would get his lawyer to draw up a contract, but before that could happen, Ray fell ill and died at the age of 90 in 1990.

Al forgot about the technical biography until 1994, when he got a call from a lawyer who was handling Ray's wife's estate (she died in 1994). A provision in her will stated that Al would be paid to write said biography, publish it, and distribute about 400 copies to various of Ray's former associates, and some engineering schools. Al hesitated, because there was no one left alive that he could interview - but the lawyer said he had six large cartons of material he could look over before deciding.  So Al drove the 300 miles to Philadelphia, picked up the material, and after reviewing it, decided he could do a passable job. The result is a small (130 page) book, entitled "A Voice in the Wilderness" - the reason for the title will become clear when you read the book.

 

Table of Contents:

Introduction

I: The Early Years - Kraus's genealogy, birth, early environment, and education through college graduation.

II: A Career Begins - Kraus enters the workplace; some general background on the history and organization of the Bell System.

III: Going Steady with Ma Bell - A summary of Kraus's Bell System career. Contacts during this time with the author.

IV The Idea Factory - Covers Kraus's innovations, ideas, successes, and failures throughout his Bell career.

V Ray and Doris - Marriage & family life; activities and interests outside of work for Ray and Doris Kraus.

VI: A New Career - Formation of CCE after Kraus's retirement from Bell, his entry into the competitive world.

VII: The Kraus Voicegram - Description o f Kraus's most significant invention.

VIII: Search for a Market - Kraus's efforts to promote and sell the Voicegram.

IX: More Innovations - Buyer Credit Service, No Answer Tone, Educational TV, a reading machine for the blind.

X: One Communications System for Mankind - A concept bringing together all Kraus's ideas for the future in telecommunications.

XI: Ma Bell's House of Wonders - A review of Bell Labs's accomplishments and Kraus's relationship to Bell Labs people and activities.

XII: Crusade for Quality - Kraus's constant emphasis on the need for better telephone service.

XIII: Kraus and the Regulators - Battles and testimony with the FCC; Prince Edward Island
involvement.

XIV The Approaching Storm - The Bell System struggling for life in the years leading up to the 1984 divestiture.

XV The Great Divorce - Kraus's reactions to the Bell breakup; his frustration at not being able
to get the attention of prominent people.

XVI: The Rape of Ma Bell - The process of writing and promoting the book and anecdotes
concerning it.

XVII: A Conspiracy of Silence - Kraus's two main antagonists-lawyers and the media-and his view of the conspiracy of these groups to cover up the crime of breaking up the Bell System. The letter writing campaign.

XVIII: Kraus and the Nation - Kraus's ideas on democracy and the future for our society as a whole. Competitive versus cooperative handling of problems; need for a more responsible press. Quotes from CRCs papers and correspondence on these subjects.

XIX: The End of the Crusade - Ray Kraus's final years; his death and his legacy.
 

Book cover summary:

A Voice in the Wilderness
The Technical Biography of Constantine Raymond Kraus
by Alfred W. Duerig


The Kraus Voicegram System, Buyer Credit Service, no answer tone, and a computer that can translate printed matter into synthesized speech-these ground breaking innovations were conceived in the mind of one man, Constantine Raymond Kraus. Ray Kraus was a man devoted to science and engineering who advanced many ingenious ideas during his career not only to improve our communication systems but also our lives.

Upon retiring from Bell of Pennsylvania, Kraus formed his own company, Consulting Communications Engineers (CCE), which combined the talents of a number of his associates who had already retired such as Dr. Clarence Lovell, Ray Ruwell, Lou Fink, and Bill Davidson. Kraus knew that their combined experience in research, development, and engineering was invaluable to the communications industry. This dynamic union did indeed prove to be successful as their subsequent clients included the U.S. Agency for International Development, Motorola, IBM, Honeywell, GTE, Toshiba, Chase Manhattan Bank, Ford Aerospace, and many others.

Alfred W Duerig worked with Ray Kraus for many years at Bell Telephone, and he witnessed firsthand the power and cutting-edge insights of Kraus's mind. In the pages of A Voice in the Wilderness: The Technical Biography of Constantine Raymond Kraus, Duerig depicts not only Kraus's life but his many struggles to bring his innovations to the American public as well. In doing so, Duerig creates a unique look into the workings of powerful organizations and a vivid portrait of a true pioneer spirit.  Ray was very much opposed to the break up of the Bell System and was very outspoken about his reasons . . . but few listened.


My review . . .

Ray started his first career with the Bell System in 1923 with Bell of Pennsylvania.  Later, after mandatory retirement from Bell at age 65, started his own business called Consulting Communications Engineers (CCE).  During his Bell career he held the title of Assistant Engineer (a third-level management position more impressive than the title!) where he worked on long-range planning studies including numbering, dialing and charging arrangements.

In 1946, he was promoted to Engineer which involved working as a general staff transmission engineer and then later worked as a general military and special services engineer.

One of the noteworthy ideas Ray had that was mentioned in this book was the "Voicegram" idea.  In late 1939, while still a relatively young engineer at Bell, Ray wrote a Memorandum describing what he then called "Voice Letter Service."  This can be compared to today's voice-mail system.  The idea was reviewed by Ray's boss and Ray's boss' boss but it was decided to do nothing with this suggestion since such a service would be in competition with Western Union and would surely not be permitted by the FCC.  The idea was filed away in an "Ideas" file.

In 1963 Ray wrote another paper titled "Storage and Forwarding of Voice Messages."  He developed the point that ordinary telephone calls used "line switching," in which circuits were connected together before information was transmitted, while his proposal was based on "message switching," which did not require any through connection of circuits..  Ray foresaw the capabilities of electronic switching "software" to handle the recording and message routing functions.  This idea joined the Voicegram idea in the "Ideas" file.

Ray had a very low opinion of lawyers and politicians - especially with the divestiture case of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company - a.k.a., the Bell System.  An analogy that Ray made about the Bell System divestiture was the equivalent of throwing all the scientists out of  NASA and letting a bunch of attorneys try to launch the next space probe.  Ray was not alone in his opinions.  In 1897, Gene Kemmelman, director of Consumer Federation of America, stated, "Regulation has gotten a bum rap.  It has provided cheap service and innovation."

Ray Kraus was especially incensed by Judge Greene's action in the case.  In particular, Ray was upset most by Greene's edict that exchange and inter-exchange services be separated which required that the entire telecommunications network be taken apart and rebuilt, and millions of dollars of equipment be scrapped.

There were only 400 copies of this book published; it makes an excellent companion book to "The Rape of Ma Bell".  I thank Alfred W. Duerig for allowing me to own one of those 400 copies and present this information to the public.  I only wish the public wasn't lied to by the government and the media prior to divestiture so that maybe some parts of that great Bell System would still be together today.  In my opinion, which follows Ray and Al's discussions in the books, the American people were robbed by the US government of the best telephone service in the world on that dreadful day of January 1, 1984.  And to make matters worse, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was just another deadly stab by our politicians into an already crippled telephone system.



Courtesy of Gary Goff and his wife who did the scanning.

 

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