• United States
by Steve Taylor and Joanie Wexler

Trivia answers, Part 2

Jan 29, 20043 mins

* Can you sing the "Touchtone" song?

Again, kudos to readers David Reuben of the Gartner Group, Joe Holcomb and Peter Shelly for taking first, second and third place, respectively, in our recent “20 years post-divestiture” trivia quiz.

Here are the remaining answers:

11) The final document that stipulated the rules governing the divestiture of AT&T was the Modified Final Judgment.  We also accepted “Consent Decree.”

12) AT&T notoriously acquired NCR in 1991 in an attempt to become a leader in the computing industry. Not!

13) The common word used to brand “dual tone multi frequency” (DMTF) signaling is “Touchtone.” Once a trademark of AT&T, the company relinquished the term to the public at divestiture. “Touchtone” is now used to generically represent pushbutton phone services, according the 19th Edition of “Newton’s Telecom Dictionary.”

Note: TV commercials circa 1970 featured a little cartoon character breezily sliding along tree branches and up hills and through the air, singing, “We’ve got Touchtone…We’ve got Touchtone…We’ve got Touchtone – what more can you ask from life?” The voice singing the jingle sounded similar to the voice that sang the goofy song, “Winchester Cathedral” (performed by the New Vaudeville Band), which was a No. 1 hit in 1966.

14) The type of device that preceded modems for transmitting data to another computer remotely was the acoustic coupler. Anyone who ever had the misfortune to use one will be grateful for the “always on” broadband connections we enjoy today.

15) The 56K bit/sec modem “standards” competition circa 1996 grew out of K56flex technology (promoted by Lucent and Rockwell) and X2 (promoted by US Robotics). The industry finally compromised on a standard called V.90 after a cutthroat battle. Does anyone remember – or care – today?

16) John Walter was the AT&T president who resigned after less than a year in office, taking millions with him. He had come to AT&T from R.R. Donnelly, the printing company. 

17) Unix International was a vendor consortium started by AT&T and Sun to promote AT&T’s Berkeley-derived strain of the Unix operating system (AT&T System V). The consortium was formed to counter the multivendor Open Software Foundation’s “open” strain of Unix, called OSF/1. The effort started the “Unix wars” of the early 1990s.

18) AT&T’s satellite business was called Skynet Satellite Services, which was sold to Loral Space & Communications in 1997. Note to some of you: Telstar was the name of the actual satellite up in space, and Tridom was AT&T’s VSAT company.

19) The two network types that use dual, counter-rotating rings that we were thinking of are FDDI and SONET, which many of you also identified. Reader Deborah Levine Weinstein also astutely included CDDI (which migrated the FDDI architecture to copper wiring), which also qualifies. So does SDH, SONET’s international technology cousin, as noted by reader Scott Evans.

20) And, finally, what’s a codec? Originally, “codec” stood for coder/decoder, a microprocessor chip that converts signals back and forth from analog to digital and is sometimes found in PBXs and phones. More recently, the term has been used to denote “compression/decompression,” or converting a signal into smaller bandwidth or fewer bits.