Bell Labs is fading away, as perhaps all good things must. During its heyday it made countless contributions to the well-being of the world, largely by giving away knowledge. The enterprise was funded by an invisible tax on most of the telephones in the USA. A sliver of regulated monopoly profits were diverted to pay scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and a variety of other folks. They worked not on short-term moneymaking products, but on things that just might some day be important ... like transistors, information theory, and the cosmic microwave background radiation left behind by the birth of the universe. "Stuff", in other words, that doesn't show up on next quarter's profit-and-loss statement. Would that today's monopolists could make such contributions to humanity, and that dot-com dilettantes could lift their sights to such higher pursuits. Perhaps there's still hope for some of them.

But meanwhile, I owe a belated thanks to Bell Labs for a couple of small personal presents:

So, some decades later, thank you, Ron Graham, Ken Thompson, and everybody else at Bell Labs. I didn't come up with any breakthroughs from your gifts, but others did --- and your generosity made that possible.

(see also CaissicMetaphors (8 Jan 2000), PersonalProgrammingHistory (2 Apr 2002), ThatDepends (9 Sep 2002), DeadBeginnings (28 Sep 2002), ...)

TopicScience - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicProfiles - 2003-05-26

(correlates: AnnotationPunctuation, ThanksAndAcknowledgements3, ClubScience, ...)