Telecommunications existed before the advent of AT&T and by the time the telephone was invented by its founder, the telegraph already existed with might and main. It is interesting that Alexander Bell actually wanted to create a hearing aid, not a telephone. Until the last years of his life, the inventor worked on improving his device. Actually, from the very beginning, AT&T has been very aggressive about new technologies, buying up patents and technologies. Although Bell was not very good at business, his inventions turned AT&T into a large multinational conglomerate based in Dallas, Texas.
Meaning and History
In 1877, together with Thomas Sanders and Gardiner Greene Hubbard, Alexander Bell founded the Bell Telephone Company, which for a long time was a monopoly in the American market. At one time, Hubbard offered Western Union, which became its main competitor, to buy all the rights to the phone for $100,000, but was refused. Two years later, the company was reorganized into the National Bell Telephone Company with a capital of $850 thousand. After another reorganization in 1880, the American Bell Telephone Company was formed with a capitalization of $7.35 million. In just four years, a small startup turned into a huge company, and its founding fathers became millionaires. It later left Europe and focused on the domestic market, for which in 1895 they created a subsidiary – the American Telephone and Telegraph Company. Even after the split in 1984, AT&T was still an important player in the telecommunications industry. In 2005, AT&T merged with SBC Communications, becoming the largest in the US telecommunications sector.
What is AT&T?
This is the world’s largest telecommunications company and one of the largest media conglomerates. AT&T is one of the four largest contractors of the US Military Communications Agency. Most importantly, it is the company behind the first telephone in human history.
1885 – 1900
A black and white logo with a Bell in the center was the first official emblem. It was placed on a white background with multiple lines of varying thickness creating a border around it. Across the bell, it stated “Long Distance Telephone” in capitalized sans-serif letters of white color with each word on a separate line. The bell not only stood for the last name of the inventor but was also associated with the ringing of the phone.
1900 – 1921
The new logo specified that one can make not only long distances but also local calls at the very top of the bell. Below it, the emblem said “Bell System” for the first time. The border turned into a double circle frame around the bell. It carried another inscription, which stated “American Telephone & Telegraph Co. and Associated Companies”.
1921 – 1939
Not only the border was made bolder to reflect the growing influence of the company, but also all the inscriptions were updated. The bell now had only “Bell System” written across, while “American Telephone & Telegraph Co”. The name of the local division was written around the upper half of the border. Otherwise, the brand image stayed pretty consistent.
1939 – 1960
The new bell shape and larger font used to print “Bell System” gave the logo a bolder look even though the border was not as thick on the outside. The inscriptions around the border were flipped. Moreover, the company decided to create one logo for all divisions and simply added “AND ASSOCIATED COMPANIES” in the bottom half.
1960 – 1964
The updated version was the simplest one so far. It was almost the same as the one used before but with a completely clean border. There was no need to specify what Bell company was all about.
1964 – 1966
For the first time in almost a century-long history, the company introduced color in its logo. It was a pleasant shade of blue that replaced the black. The border was made of one solid color.
1966 – 1969
With a name change, a new modification was done. The previous logo was made smaller and accompanied by large letters spelling out “AT&T” and smaller stating “and Associated Companies” on a second line. The black was brought back.
1969 – 1983
A more abstract version of the previous logo was presented in 1969. The large “AT&T” inscription in black was placed at the bottom, while a blue bell in a circle frame was enlarged and set right above it. Saul Bass was the designer of this emblem.
1983 – 2005
Saul Bass worked with Herb Leager Associates this time to create a completely new brand image. It was a globe with white and blue horizontal lines that either got thinner or wider to create a white highlight in the left half towards the top. It was the same light blue shade as the bell image featured earlier. The inscription underneath used the same font only bold. There was a version with only 8 horizontal bars and a version with several more bars.
2001 – 2005
For several years, the company used the version with 8 horizontal bars as its main brand image. It was also redrawn to add a shadow on the right and give it some volume. Although the other version was officially no longer in use, it still appeared here and there during these years.
2005 – 2015
A truly 3D globe was presented in 2005 when the company merged with another business. It featured fewer and wider horizontal bars. The “AT&T” was not only placed on the right but also printed using a different font and all lowercase letters. The company asked Interbrand to work on its logo design.
2015 – Today
During another rebranding, the designers not only made the globe flat again but also flipped the colors. They kept the number of lines and their shape unchanged, though. Another update was the return to all capitalized letters. Although it was a custom font, the inscription reminded of the old versions but with rounded corners.
Font and Color
The 1964 logo features a Univers Condensed font, while in 1969, the company went for Helvetica and later changed it to Helvetica Bold. The logo introduced in 2005 features a completely different font, although still sans serif. Initially, it was ClearviewATT, but later the designers used Omnes font. Ten years after the last rebranding, the company had a custom font created specifically for its logo. It is called AT&T Aleck and was designed by Interbrand. Until 1969, the company used a black-and-white color palette, which is a classic and professional choice. Then, it introduced a sky blue color which made the previous color palette brighter and stood for the freedom of communication the company was providing as well as its trustworthiness.