Review of Industrial Organization 12: 301, 1997. 1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. The break-up of the AT&T’s Bell System in 1984 was the largest single accom- plishment of U.S. antitrust policy since the Sherman Act was signed in 1890. The case and its results have turned out to be accepted as a conspicuous economic and corporate success, even though there was intense resistance and criticism as the case began and proceeded after 1974. Indeed the AT&T monopoly had long been deeply entrenched and was seemingly untouchable. How America’s leading corporate colossus came to be challenged and felled is a major topic in policy history. Understanding how this antitrust triumph could happen against all the odds is a necessary task for everyone interested in U.S. antitrust and deregulation. Now virtually forgotten is the decisive role played by a Federal Communications Commission Task Force during 1972–77. With great talent and effort, this Task Force set about assembling evidence on AT&T’s monopoly-creating behavior in a variety of markets. The Task Force built up a massive set of information, which was comprehensive and technically beyond challenge. That evidence quickly became the essential core of the Antitrust Division’s case against AT&T, leading on to the break-up of AT&T in 1984. The Task Force was largely created and led by Manley R. Irwin, with uncom- mon skill and remarkable courage. His personal and professional contribution was pivotal to AT&T’s eventual break-up. The Editors consider it important to tell this chapter in the AT&T divestiture story. Professor Irwin has ﬁnally consented to explain how the activity progressed, and the Review is especially pleased to provide this account.
Review of Industrial Organization – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 29, 2004
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