Bell Laboratories was founded by Alexander Graham Bell. It is the research and development subsidiary of Alcatel-Lucent. Its headquarters is in Murray Hill, New Jersey, but it has facilities throughout the world.
In 1925, Western Electric Research Laboratories and part of the engineering department of the American Telephone & Telegraph company (AT&T) were consolidated to form Bell Telephone Laboratories, Inc., as a separate entity.
In the 1920’s, attention increasingly turned to exploring fundamental areas of science likely to shape the future of the telephone industry. As a result, about 4,000 scientists and engineers were assigned to a newly created Bell Telephone Laboratories and were fully dedicated to such research.
From 1925 to 1983 it was owned jointly by AT&T/Western Electric. During the government breakup of AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories became a wholly owned company of the new AT&T Technologies unit, the former Western Electric.
In 1996, AT&T spun off Bell Laboratories, along with most of its equipment-manufacturing business, into a new company named Lucent Technologies. Then, in 2006, Lucent merged with Alcatel forming Alcatel-Lucent.
Researchers working at Bell Labs have been responsible for some of our greatest inventions and discoveries. Some of these include:
the charge-coupled device (a device for the movement of electrical charge, usually from within the device to an area where the charge can be manipulated, for example conversion into a digital value.
the UNIX operating system
the C and C++ programming languages
Seven Nobel Prizes in Physics have been awarded for work completed at Bell Labs:
1937: demonstrating the wave nature of matter.
1956: inventing the first transistors.
1977: improved understanding of the electronic structure of glass and magnetic materials.
1978: discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation.
1997: developing methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.
1998: discovery and explanation of the fractional quantum Hall effect.
2009: invention of charge-coupled device (CCD) semiconductor imaging sensors.