Twin EnginesPeter Coy
Thirteen years ago this spring, an ambitious, buttoned-down vice-president named Robert E. Allen was given an urgent task by American Telephone & Telegraph Co. Congress and the Justice Dept. were threatening to dismember the world's wealthiest company to keep it from squelching competition. Allen had 30 days to prepare a plan that could assuage the slicers and dicers and help save the Bell System. On June 28, 1979, he issued his task force's conclusion: build safeguards against monopolistic behavior, but fight to preserve Ma Bell's unique, two-in-one combination of communications services and manufacturing. When AT&T settled its antitrust suit on Jan. 8, 1982, it reluctantly agreed to spin off the local phone companies that accounted for 77% of its assets. But, as Allen and others had advised, it kept its manufacturing intact.
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