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Ma Bell

The common nickname for the Bell Telephone Company when it was the monopoly communications provider in the U.S. See Bell System.

Bell System

Before AT&T was broken up in 1984 by court order, the Bell System referred to AT&T and all the Bell Telephone companies that were part of it, but had separate names to provide a regional flavor. The Bell name, of course, came from Alexander Graham Bell. See AT&T, Divestiture and RBOC.

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As AT&T grew to be the largest corporation in the U.S., the Bell name became synonymous with telecommunications. New England Telephone & Telegraph was one of AT&T's 23 operating companies before Divestiture.

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