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American Telephone & Telegraph: The Art of Telephony, 1916

Going Corporate

The Bell Telephony Company was formally incorporated in June of 1878, and Theodore Vail was hired as the company's general manager. As general manager, and eventually as President, Theodore Vail inspired change in his company and earned respect and admiration from his colleagues. During his time at AT&T, Vail helped orchestrate and oversee numerous consolidations and reorganizations of the local branches of the Bell Telephone Company, reincorporated in 1880 as American Bell. The newly incorporated American Bell was empowered by law to construct, own, and maintain public and private telephone lines. From 1881 through 1884, the Company underwent one of its most significant restructurings, which consolidates small, isolated businesses into multi-state operations.

In early 1885, Vail stepped down from his position with American Bell in the interest of assembling and directing a long-distance subsidiary of the parent company, American Bell. This new subsidiary was incorporated and named the American Telephone & Telegraph Company (AT&T). American Bell continued to exist until 1921, but eventually its traditional lines of business were combined with AT&T's long-distance operations and the single company formed has since been known as AT&T.