• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Where were you on Jan. 1, 1984? Part 1

Jan 06, 20042 mins

* Test your memory 20 years post telecom divestiture

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the historic divestiture of AT&T and the advent of competition in the U.S. long-distance phone market.

Granted, milestones in the business sector might not have quite as strong an emotional hold over us as remembering, say, where we were on Sept. 11, 2001 or on Nov. 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was shot. But our working lives do comprise a large chunk of our memories.

For example, do you remember the terms “equal access” and “1+” dialing? If you do, you’re probably a telecom veteran who recollects when there were no choices to make about who provided your long-distance phone service. To set up service, you simply called The Phone Company.

Sharpen up those gray cells and see how many of the following questions pertaining to AT&T in particular and to the telecom industry in general you can answer. It seems appropriate to ask 20 questions for 20 years. We’ll ask 10 questions this time and another 10 in the next newsletter.

Send your answers by Jan. 15 to, and we’ll let you know who got the most right (and we’ll post the answers eventually, too). Also, if you have your own juicy trivia questions to share, please send them along.

1) What was the average per-minute price of a residential U.S. long-distance call in 1980? What’s the average residential per-minute price today?

2) Who was the U.S. District Judge who oversaw the breakup of AT&T?

3) Is this judge alive or dead today?

4) Name three large telecommunications user groups that formed and thrived for many years post-divestiture. Name one that is still active today.

5) What 1968 sci-fi film inaccurately depicted the future in that it portrayed The Bell System still intact long after 1984?

6) Who was chairman of AT&T at the time of divestiture?

7) Who is chairman of AT&T today?

8) What was the brand name of AT&T’s frame relay service in the 1990s?

9) For several years, starting in the 1989 timeframe, what technology was expected to form the foundation of the “new public-switched telephone network”?

10) What was the name of the first VPN service from AT&T, and what was its function? (Similar services were available from MCI and Sprint. Extra credit if you can name them.)

Happy noodling!