The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires - Tim Wu (2010)



1. The description of the banquet is in “Voice Voyages by the National Geographic Society: A Tribute to the Geographical Achievements of the Telephone,” National Geographic XXIX (March 1916): 296–326. Another account can be found in Albert Bigelow Paine’s biography, Theodore N. Vail: A Biography (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921).

2. Alan Stone, How America Got Online (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1997), 27; Annual Report of the American Telephone and Telegraph for 1910 (New York, 1911), 34; Albert Bigelow Paine, In One Man’s Life: Being Chapters from the Personal and Business Career of Theodore N. Vail (New York: Harper & Bros., 1921), 213–14; and Allan L. Benson, “The Wonderful New World Ahead of Us,” The Cosmopolitan (February 1911): 294, 302.

3. Nikola Tesla, “The Transmission of Electrical Energy Without Wires,” Electrical World and Engineer, 1904. D. W. Griffith is quoted in Richard Dyer MacCann, The First Film Makers (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1989), 5. Sloan Foundation, On the Cable (1971). Tom Stoppard’s character Jackson makes this remark and then exclaims, “Electricity is going to change everything! Everything!” Tom Stoppard, The Invention of Love (New York: Grove Press, 1998), 53.

4. Authors Frank Manuel and Fritzie Manuel discuss the age of the Utopia Victoriana in Utopian Thought in the Western World (Cambridge MA: Belknap Press, 1979), 759. The other great influence on Vail’s time was Frederick Taylor—his theories of scientific management and the concept of the “one right way.” The classic is Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (New York: Harper & Bros., 1911); see, generally, Bernard Doray, From Taylorism to Fordism: A Rational Madness (London: Free Association Books, 1988).

5. See Annual Report of the American Telephone and Telegraph for 1910, 36; and “Public Utilities and Public Policy,” Atlantic Monthly (1913): 309. These articles are reprinted in Theodore N. Vail, Views on Public Questions: A Collection of Papers and Addresses of Theodore Newton Vail (privately printed, 1917), 111.

6. Annual Report of the American Telephone and Telegraph for 1910, 36.

7. Ibid.; Henry Ford with Samuel Crowther, My Life and Work (Garden City, NY: Garden City Publishing Company, 1922), 2.

8. Aldous Huxley’s diary of his long journey through several countries and his experience reading Henry Ford’s autobiography along the way is in Aldous Huxley, Jesting Pilate: The Diary of a Journey (London: Chatto and Windus, 1930).

9. These observations on human equality and the social order may be found in Henry Ford’s autobiography, My Life and Work (New York: Garden City Publishing Co., 1922), 10, 3.

10. Huxley’s early impressions of American culture and the revolutionary changes being wrought by advances in communications technology may be read in Aldous Huxley, “The Outlook for American Culture: Some Reflections in a Machine Age,” Harper’s Magazine, August 1927.

11. Joseph Goebbels, “Der Rundfunk als achte Großmacht,” Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1938), 197–207. On the Lucy ratings, see Gary Edgerton, The Columbia History of American Television (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 134.


1. There are, unsurprisingly, many useful histories of the Bell Company and AT&T. For the pre-1984 history, see Herbert Newton Casson, The History of the Telephone (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1910), 24–25; N. R. Danielian, AT&T: The Story of Industrial Conquest (New York: Vanguard, 1939); Arthur Page, The Bell Telephone System (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1941); Horace Coon, American Tel & Tel: The Story of a Great Monopoly (New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1939); Sonny Kleinfeld, The Biggest Company on Earth: A Profile of AT&T (New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1981); John Brooks, Telephone: The First One Hundred Years (New York: Harper & Row, 1976).

2. William W. Fisher III, “The Growth of Intellectual Property: A History of the Ownership of Ideas in the United States,” in Intellectual Property Rights: Critical Concepts in Law, vol. I, 83, David Vaver ed., (New York: Routledge, 2006).

3. The controversy over the invention of the telephone has engendered a small industry, including four volumes written in the twenty-first century. It begins with “How Gray Was Cheated,” New York Times, May 22, 1886; see also A. Edward Evenson, The Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876: The Elisha Gray–Alexander Bell Controversy (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000); Burton H. Baker, The Gray Matter: The Forgotten Story of the Telephone (St. Joseph, MI: Telepress, 2000); Seth Shulman, The Telephone Gambit (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008); Tony Rothman, Everything’s Relative (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2003). For the full Drawbaugh case, see Dolbear v. American Bell Tel. Co., 126 U.S. 1 (1888).

4. Malcolm Gladwell, “In the Air,” New Yorker, May 12, 2008. Gladwell explores these themes further in Outliers: The Story of Success (New York; Little, Brown, 2008).

5. Clayton M. Christensen, The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business.

6. Casson, History of the Telephone, 24–25.

7. See Evenson, Telephone Patent Conspiracy of 1876, 65.

8. Joseph A. Schumpeter, The Theory of Economic Development: An Inquiry into Profits, Capital, Credit, Interest, and the Business Cycle (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1983), 84, 86.

9. One account of this first successful telephonic communication is found in Charlotte Gray, Reluctant Genius: Alexander Graham Bell and the Passion for Invention (New York: Arcade, 2006), 123–24.

10. A history of the Associated Press relationship with Western Union and the influence of wire-communicated news may be found in Menahem Blondheim, News Over the Wires: The Telegraph and the Flow of Public Information in America, 1844–1897 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1994).

11. The text of this advertisement is in Brooks, Telephone, 60.

12. According to some accounts, quite possibly apocryphal, Orton simply chuckled when offered the Bell patents, asking pleasantly, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” This exchange appears in Casson, History of the Telephone, 58–59.

13. During this period, it appears that “Western Union’s strangle hold [on the industry] began to tighten into a death grip,” as described by historian John Brooks in Telephone, 70.

14. Jonathan Zittrain, The Future of the Internet—And How to Stop It (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008), 106.

15. Bell’s depression and subsequent hospitalization are recorded in Casson, History of the Telephone, 74.

16. Schumpeter’s ideas are central to this book. Two of his works are particularly important for this work: The Theory of Economic Development; and Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New York: Routledge, 2006) (1942). For more about his work see Robert Loring Allen, Opening Doors: The Life and Work of Joseph Schumpeter, Volume One—Europe (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 1991); on his up-and-down life, see Richard Swedberg’s Schumpeter: A Biography (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1991); Thomas K. McCraw, Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2007).

17. Albert Bigelow Paine, In One Man’s Life: Being Chapters from the Personal & Business Career of Theodore N. Vail (New York: Harper & Bros., 1921) 114.

18. Schumpeter, Theory of Economic Development, 93; Paine, In One Man’s Life, 27.

19. This letter is reprinted in Casson, History of the Telephone, 67.

20. Brooks, Coon, and Casson all give full accounts of the agreement between Western Union and Bell.

21. Coon, American Tel & Tel, 41.


1. An account of this boxing match at Jersey City, the first mass sportscast event, can be found in “Voice Broadcasting the Stirring Progress of the ‘Battle of the Century,’ ” The Wireless Age, August 1921, 11–21. The New York Times also covered the event, in the article “Wireless Telephone Spreads Fight News Over 120,000 Miles,” New York Times, July 3, 1921, 6.

2. For a description and photographs of Jack Dempsey, the reigning heavyweight champion in 1921, see Randy Roberts, Jack Dempsey, the Manassa Mauler (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979).

3. The Radio Corporation of America and David Sarnoff are key characters in this book—although famously historians have been hoodwinked by Sarnoff’s misrepresentations, so read with care. On the man and the firm, see Gleason Archer, Big Business and Radio (New York: American Historical Company, 1939); Tom Lewis, Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (New York: HarperCollins, 1991); and Kenneth Bilby, The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry (New York: Harper & Row, 1986). Descriptions of Sarnoff’s life and work in his own words—a notably unreliable source—can be found in Looking Ahead: The Papers of David Sarnoff (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1968).

4. Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (G. & C. Merriam Co., 1913), available online at

5. A. Frederick Collins, The Book of Wireless (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1916).

6. A description of Lee De Forest’s radio station in the Bronx can be found in Brian Regal, Radio: The Life Story of a Technology (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005), 59–60.

7. QST Magazine continues to be the publication of the American Radio Relay League. The magazine’s estimate is in “De Forest Wireless Telephone,” QST Magazine, April 1917, 72.

8. See “Voice Broadcasting the Stirring Progress of the ‘Battle of the Century,’ ” Wireless Age, August 1921, 11.

9. Todd Lappin discusses radio’s dramatic rise in popularity in the early 1920s, which he compares to the personal computer’s rise in the 1980s, in “Déjà Vu All Over Again,” Wired, May 1995.

10. Lee De Forest’s encouragements are in How to Set Up an Amateur Radio Receiving Station (New York: De Forest Radio Telephone and Telegraph Company, 1920), 2–7.

11. Waldemar Kaempffert, “Signalling and Talking by Radio,” Modern Wonder Workers: A Popular History of American Invention (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1924), 351, 378.

12. Todd Lappin quotes this Radio Broadcast column in “Déjà Vu All Over Again,” Wired, May 1995.

13. Alfred Goldsmith spoke about the potential cultural benefits of the radio in an interview with Edgar Felix, “Dr. Alfred N. Goldsmith on the Future of Radio Telephony,” Radio Broadcast, May 1922, 42, 45.

14. Mark Caspar, “Radio Broadcasting,” Radio Dealer, June 1922, 42–45. William Boddy references this article in New Media and Popular Imagination: Launching Radio, Television, and Digital Media in the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004).

15. Lee De Forest recommends radio as a hobby in How to Set Up an Amateur Radio Receiving Station.

16. An example of the radio station “lists” is Armstrong Perry, “What Anyone Can Hear: Complete List of Broadcasting Stations in U.S.” Radio News, March 1922, 814. An excellent source describing the role of the radio in the history of jazz music is Clifford Doerksen, American Babel: Rogue Radio Broadcasters of the Jazz Age (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

17. David Sarnoff’s remark is quoted in Kenneth Bilby, The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry (New York: Harper & Row, 1986), 65.

18. John Reith’s diaries were edited by Charles Stewart and published in The Reith Diaries (London: Collins, 1975). See also Asa Briggs, The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, vol. I (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 126; Derek Parker, Radio: The Great Years (Devon, UK: David & Charles, 1977). For an inside look at the history of the BBC, see Arthur Richard Burrows, The Story of Broadcasting (London: Cassell and Co., 1924).

19. Gale Pedrick’s description of Savoy Hill can be found in Briggs, History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, 193.

20. John Reith expressed his view of the radio in his own book, Broadcast over Britain (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1924).

21. Walter Lippmann, The Phantom Public (New York: Macmillan Company, 1927).

22. Reith wrote this in an internal BBC memorandum in November 1925. It has become a rather well-known quote, and is discussed in Burton Paulu, Television and Radio in the United Kingdom (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981), 8.

23. This statement by Reith comes from Paulu, Television and Radio in the United Kingdom, 300.

24. Asa Briggs relates this anecdote about George Bernard Shaw in his The BBC: The First Fifty Years (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).

25. Ibid., 54.

26. Reith’s assessments of Churchill can be found in various entries in his diaries, which were later edited by Charles Stewart and published in The Reith Diaries. Reith’s opinion of the government was also discussed in a Timemagazine article four years after his death: “Britain: Lord Wrath,” Time, October 6, 1975.

27. This sentiment by Reith’s contemporary at BBC can be found in Briggs, The BBC: The First Fifty Years, 156.

28. Asa Briggs describes the language advisory committee in History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom, 221–22.

29. Reith confessed this in Stewart, ed., The Reith Diaries, 68.

30. Reith explains his conception of BBC as a public utility in Broadcast over Britain.

31. Briggs, The BBC: The First Fifty Years, 49.


1. For an interesting discussion of Edmund Burch and the development of these early Independent telephone lines, see Michael L. Olsen, “But It Won’t Milk the Cows: Farmers in Colfax County Debate the Merits of the Telephone,” New Mexico Historical Review 61:1 (January 1986).

2. Scientific magazines and rural newspapers frequently discussed the mechanics of establishing local telephone lines. The two that inspired Edmund Burch, according to Michael L. Olsen’s account cited above, were “A Cheap Telephone System for Farmers,” Scientific American, 1900; and a piece in the Rural New Yorker from June 11, 1903, at 437, quoted in Ronald R. Kline, Consumers in the Country: Technology and Social Change in Rural America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 28.

3. One early description of the Independent telephone movement can be found in The Independent Telephone Movement: Its Inception and Progress (s.n., 1906).

4. The Independents described themselves in populist terms, as evidenced by this quote found in W. A. Taylor, “The Art of Cable Splicing,” Sound Waves, January 1907, 61, 64. Their dedication to achieving American industrial independence is referenced in Henry A. Conrad, “An Ohio Company’s Splendid Record,” Sound Waves, March 1907, 107, 108.

5. The circumstances surrounding Vail’s first departure from Bell can be found in Horace Coon, American Tel & Tel: The Story of a Great Monopoly (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1939), 66–67.

6. This description of the impact of the telephone on farm life was first published in Raton Range, March 10, 1904; quoted in Olsen, “But It Won’t Milk the Cows,” 1.

7. Ronald L. Klein describes the uses to which the early phones were put in Consumers in the Country, 43.

8. This campaign is detailed in Paul Latzke, A Fight with an Octopus (Chicago: Telephony, 1906), and sporadically in Sound Waves, infra; the reliability of these sources, of course, can be questioned.

9. This account can be found in Norton E. Long, “Public Relations Policies of the Bell System,” Public Opinion Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 4, 5, 12.

10. This quote, along with fascinating Independent perspectives on the early era of telephony, can be found in Sound Waves vol. XIII, no. 1, December 1906.

11. Sound Waves vol. XIII, no. 4, March 1907.

12. Latzke, Fight with an Octopus, 12.

13. For the history of Vail’s interaction with J. P. Morgan, as well as his return to Bell as president of the newly formed AT&T, see In One Man’s Life: Being Chapters from the Personal & Business Career of Theodore N. Vail(Harper & Brothers, New York, 1921); Coon, American Tel & Tel; from Morgan’s perspective, see Jean Strouse, Morgan: American Financier (New York: Random House, 1999), 563.

14. “Universal service” in Vail’s mind did not mean serving every home in the country with a telephone, but rather was a slogan calling for the elimination of competition from dual service and the grand unification of telephony under AT&T’s authority. An excellent description of the underlying impetus behind the adoption of this strategy may be found in Milton Mueller, Universal Service: Competition, Interconnection, and Monopoly in the Making of the American Telephone System (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1997), 96.

15. This observation of the effect of price cutting on competition may be found in David Ames Wells, Recent Economic Changes (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1889).

16. One excellent means of gauging Vail’s industrial philosophy is by consulting records of Vail’s public communications during his lifetime. Most can be found in Theodore N. Vail, Views on Public Questions: A Collection of Papers and Addresses of Theodore Newton Vail (privately printed, 1917).

17. AT&T’s takeover of Western Union is well documented in George P. Oslin, The Story of Telecommunications (Macon, GA; Mercer University Press, 1992), 262.

18. Vail’s strategy to establish control over the Independents through carrotlike incentives is described in Mueller, Universal Service, 107.

19. William Doan, “Manager’s Duty to the Public and to Himself,” Sound Waves vol. XIII, no. 2, January 1907, 69.

20. The Mesa Telephone Company sellout to Bell is described in Olsen, “But It Won’t Milk the Cows,” 13.

21. The theory that J. P. Morgan secretly undermined the Traction Kings and the Telephone, Telegraph, and Cable Company of America is in Noobar Retheos Danielian, A.T.&T.: The Story of Industrial Conquest (New York: Vanguard Press, 1939), 47. Danielian himself was drawing on a three-volume FCC document entitled Telephone Investigation: Special Investigation Docket, Report on Control of Telephone Communication, Control of Independent Companies (1936–37).

22. The settlement is discussed in Mueller, Universal Service, 130.

23. The government reaction to the agreement is covered in Brooks, Telephone, 136.

24. Bork’s opinion on the irrelevance of corporate intent can be read in Robert H. Bork, The Antitrust Paradox (New York: Basic Books, 1978), 38–39.

25. This quote is in Theodore Vail, “Some Observations on Modern Tendencies,” Educational Review vol. 51, February 1916, 109, 129.

26. Mueller, Universal Service, 146.


1. For a more detailed account of this initial meeting (and an excellent history of the rise of the American film industry), see James Forsher, The Community of Cinema: How Cinema and Spectacle Transformed the American Downtown (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2003), 30–32.

2. Two interesting histories of French cinema and its early industry dominance are Richard Abel, The Ciné Goes to Town: French Cinema, 1896–1914 (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press), and W. Stephen Bush, “The Film in France,” Moving Picture World, July 12, 1913.

3. This vivid description of the early theatergoing experience from Moving Picture World magazine may be found in Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema (New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, 1990), 3–4.

4. There are conflicting accounts of how much Zukor truly paid for the rights to Queen Elizabeth; some scholars place the figure at $18,000, while others, going by what Zukor claimed in his later years, estimate closer to $40,000—either amount a huge sum at the time. See Forsher, Community of Cinema, 33, for one account. The quote regarding Zukor’s intentions is in Anthony Slide, Early American Cinema, 2nd ed. (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1994), 60.

5. The exchange between Kennedy and Zukor is recounted in Forsher, Community of Cinema, 30–32.

6. Ibid., 32.

7. As related in Evan L. Schwartz, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 132.

8. The history of Carl Laemmle’s entry into the film industry, and this scene in particular, may be found in John Drinkwater, The Life and Adventures of Carl Laemmle (London: W. Heinemann, 1931, reprinted 1978), 63; see generally Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Crown Publishers, 1988).

9. Drinkwater, Carl Laemmle, 64.

10. Ibid., 65.

11. Laemmle declared his film company “independent” in The Sunday Telegram, April 18, 1909, as described in Drinkwater, Carl Laemmle, 67.

12. Drinkwater, Carl Laemmle, 69–70.

13. This observation is drawn from Upton Sinclair, Upton Sinclair Presents William Fox (Los Angeles: self-published, 1933), 39.

14. One excellent history of the Warner brothers in Hollywood can be read in Cass Warner Sperling, Cork Millner, and Jack Warner, Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story 2nd ed. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998).

15. The international alliance to break the film trust is described in Rosalie Schwartz, Flying Down to Rio: Hollywood, Tourists, and Yankee Clippers (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2004), 163.

16. For a description of Hodkinson’s role, and his belief that producing and distributing higher quality and more expensive films made economic sense, see Morris L. Ernst, Too Big (New York: Little, Brown, 1940, reprinted 2000), 142.

17. Drinkwater, in Carl Laemmle, 73, describes the founding of IMP, later Universal Studios.

18. One account of the industry’s first European-style films, and another excellent resource on the history of American cinema, is Joel Waldo Finler, The Hollywood Story (London: Wallflower Press, 2003), 115.

19. Drinkwater, Carl Laemmle, 102–3.

20. This classic account of the industry’s early lawless years and the growth of the Hollywood empire may be found in Lewis Jacobs, The Rise of American Film: A Critical History, 2nd ed. (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947), 85.

21. Bardèche, Brasillach, The History of Motion Pictures (New York: W. W. Norton/Museum of Modern Art, 1938), 61–62.

22. Balio insists that the “hop-skip-and-jump to the Mexican border” tale should be put to rest. In actuality, claims Balio, “Trust producers led the way [to Los Angeles]…. By 1910 most MPPC producers had sent companies to the area where they were shortly joined by such newcomers as Bison, Nestor, Lux, Éclair, Fox, and IMP.” Tino Balio, The American Film Industry (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 108–9.

23. Balio, American Film Industry, 143. Stephen Prince also interestingly catalogs the history of film censorship of violence in Classical Film Violence: Designing and Regulating Brutality in Hollywood Cinema, 1930–1968 (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003).

24. Bardèche, 60–61.

25. Paul Starr, The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications (New York: Basic Books, 2004), 309.

26. Gabler, Empire of Their Own, 23, 60.

27. Balio, American Film Industry, 150.

28. Starr, Creation of the Media, 310.

29. Grimmelmann’s observation was made in the context of the recent Google Books lawsuit and proposed settlement; James Grimmelmann, “The Google Book Search Settlement: Ends, Means, and the Future of Books,” American Constitution Society Issue Brief 5, April 15, 2009.

30. The full text of the opinion dissolving the trust may be read at U.S. v. Motion Picture Patents Co., 225 F. 800 (E.D. Pa., 1915).

31. This explosion of film diversity is well explored by Steven J. Ross, Working-Class Hollywood: Silent Film and the Shaping of Class in America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 61.

32. Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U.S. 844 (1997).


1. Statement by the secretary of commerce at the opening of the radio conference of February 27, 1922, reprinted in, among other places, Fred Friendly, “Retrieving a Lost Rocket: How Television Went Haywire and What We Can Do About It—Part II,” Life, March 24, 1967, 70–83.

2. Hoover described his governance ideas in American Individualism (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1923); see also Vincent Gaddis, Herbert Hoover, Unemployment, and the Public Sphere: A Conceptual History 1913–1933 (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2005).

3. “Report of the Department of Commerce Conference on Radio Telephony,” III.E, Radio Service Bulletin, May 1, 1922, 23–30. A complete description of the first conference can be found in Hugh Richard Slotten, Radio and Television Regulation: Broadcast Technology in the United States (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 15–17. McQuiston’s quote is in Radio News, August 1922, 232, 332–34.

4. This advertisement is reprinted in many places, including James Twitchell, Adcult USA: The Triumph of Advertising in American Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 83–84. “Whether it is actually the first radio advertisement is open to question, yet its significance lies in the fact that it was the first AT&T advertisement, and therefore the seed for all that followed.

5. For these statistics on AT&T’s National Broadcasting System in 1924, see Douglas P. Craig, Fireside Politics: Radio and Political Culture in the United States, 1920–1940 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 28.

6. The full advertisement, along with a description of AT&T’s plan for commercially sponsored broadcasts, can be found in Gleason L. Archer, Big Business and Radio (New York: Stratford Press, 1939), 54. For another source on AT&T and radio broadcasting, see Leonard S. Reich, “Research, Patents, and the Struggle to Control Radio: A Study of Big Business and the Uses of Industrial Research,” Business History Review 51: 2 (Summer 1977), 208–35.

7. The Gillette advertisements discussed evolving fashions in facial hair and the benefits of a safety razor. For more information about early radio advertising, see Marc Weinberger et al., Effective Radio Advertising (New York: Lexington Books, 1994), 3–4.

8. The early sponsored programs are well described in Erik Barnouw, A Tower in Babel: A History of Broadcasting in the United States to 1933, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1966), and also John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 1, 159, 235.

9. For more information about the development and operation of radio broadcasting in different parts of the world, including the use of radio under the Third Reich, see Walter B. Emery, National and International Systems of Broadcasting: Their History, Operation and Control (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1969).

10. A. H. Griswold gave this speech in 1923, at a meeting for AT&T executives across the country. The quote is reprinted widely; see, e.g., Michele Hilmes, Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 19.

11. The author has a copy of the original manual of the AT&T (actually Western Electric) radio on file. On the presenting of President Coolidge with a radio unit in 1924, see Barnouw, A Tower in Babel, 161.

12. For a full explanation of the creation of the RCA, see Archer, Big Business and Radio, 4–7, and Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kittross, Stay Tuned: A History of American Broadcasting, 3rd ed. (London: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002), 57–58.

13. Sarnoff played a leading role in the rise of radio broadcasting; see Kenneth Bilby, The General: David Sarnoff and the Rise of the Communications Industry (New York: Harper & Row, 1986). Sarnoff’s writings were published in Looking Ahead: The Papers of David Sarnoff (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968).

14. Sarnoff had, in fact, trained in his youth to become a rabbi. See Daniel Stashower, The Boy Genius and the Mogul: The Untold Story of Television (New York: Random House, 2002), 32.

15. This quote, which evidences the obvious tension between AT&T and Sarnoff, can be found in Bilby, The General, 77.

16. Essentially, AT&T agreed that it would not manufacture radio sets. See Archer, Big Business and Radio, 118.

17. The classic account of the 1924 arbitration and following compromise is Archer, Big Business and Radio; see also Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned.

18. The NBC ran a full-page ad in various publications; it is reprinted online at, and in Sterling and Kittross, Stay Tuned, 118.

19. The commissioner of the FRC in 1931, Henry Lafount, considered the radio to be a “wonderful instrument of commerce.” See Robert W. McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928–1935 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 34. Generally, the history of these crucial years.

20. On Hoover’s broader role in this era, see Richard N. Smith, An Uncommon Man: The Triumph of Herbert Hoover (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984). Zenith company history is quoted in Barnouw, A Tower in Babel, 180. The case is United States v. Zenith Radio Corporation, 12 F.2d 614 (D.C.Ill. 1926).

21. This idea is emphasized in Philip T. Rosen, The Modern Stentors: Radio Broadcasters and the Federal Government, 1920–1934 (Westport, CT; Greenwood Press, 1980). Rosen believes that Hoover and the broadcasters agreed on the need for more federal power, but that Congress refused to vest that power in the executive branch and instead created an independent agency.

22. The issues surrounding the Zenith decision and the subsequent formation of the FRC in 1927 are highly contested and subject to numerous interpretations. In contemporary accounts the Radio Act was promoted as a beneficent government response to industry “chaos”; the first to challenge this view, as a normative matter, was the economist Ronald Coase. R. H. Coase, Journal of Law and Economics vol. 2 (October 1959), 1–40. As a descriptive matter, the communications historian Robert McChesney’s groundbreaking 1993 book Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy was among the first to present a highly critical history of the 1927 act, General Order 40, and all that followed—presenting the act as essentially a triumph of large corporate broadcasters. The economist Thomas W. Hazlett, meanwhile, offered one of the first public-choice explanations for the creation of the FRC. Hazlett argued that broadcasters wanted to limit market entry and government wanted to maximize its control, and that it was the prospect of state court recognition of common law rights that spurred Congress to regulate and preempt an emerging property scheme that would have deprived regulators of control. See “The Rationality of U.S. Regulation of the Broadcast Spectrum,” Journal of Law & Economics 33 (April 1990), 133–75. Hazlett’s account has been challenged; see Charlotte Twight, “What Congressmen Knew and When They Knew It: Further Evidence on the Origins of U.S. Broadcasting Regulation,” Public Choice 95 (June 1998), 247–76. Ultimately, the question of what motivated Congress to pass any law is difficult to answer.

23. The distinction between general public service stations and propaganda stations is described in McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy, 27.

24. From the FRC Third Annual Report, as quoted in Steven J. Simmons, The Fairness Doctrine and the Media (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 32. See also Robert S. McMahon, Federal Regulation of the Radio and Television Broadcast Industry in the United States 1927–1959 (New York: Arno Press, 1979), 59–60.

25. More information about the General Orders can be found in McChesney, Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy, 24–26.

26. Ibid., 29. For Lafount’s view, see ibid., 25, 34. See also Steve J. Wurtzler, Electric Sounds: Technological Change and the Rise of Corporate Mass Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 61.

27. See, generally, David Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda (London/New York: Routledge, 1993), 38–45. The quotes are from Joseph Goebbels, “Der Rundfunk als achte Großmacht,” Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1938), 197–207.

28. The Sarnoff mythology is best understood by reading the published collections of his writings, which lend him the air of a prophet. See Sarnoff, Looking Ahead. Sarnoff also helped make himself the first volume of the “Wisdom encylopedia,” See, The Wisdom of Sarnoff and the World of RCA (Beverly Hills, CA: Wisdom Society, 1967).


1. Thomas Tally opened Tally’s Broadway Theatre in 1909; it was demolished in 1929. Tally also operated Tally’s New Broadway Theatre in Los Angeles. This quote about the theater organ comes from David L. Smith and Orpha Ochse, Murray M. Harris and Organ Building in Los Angeles (Richmond, VA: Organ Historical Society, 2005), 87. Tally participated in film’s trajectory from “peep show to palace,” as David Robinson puts it in From Peep Show to Palace: The Birth of American Film (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996). “Thomas L. Tally, Film Pioneer, Dies. Producer First Signed Mary Pickford, Chaplin. A Founder of First National Pictures,” New York Times, November 25, 1945, Obituaries.

2. For more information about Paramount’s block booking scheme and Tally, see Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976). On the star system, see David Bordwell, Janet Staiger, and Kirstin Thompson, The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style and Mode of Production to 1960 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985). See also Eileen Bowser, The Transformation of Cinema, 1907–1915, vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994).

3. Adolph Zukor, The Public Is Never Wrong: The Autobiography of Adolph Zukor (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1953). An entertaining biography of Zukor and figures in the early film industry is Neal Gabler, An Empire of Their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood (New York: Crown Publishers, 1988). The salesman quote is in Thomas Schatz, Hollywood: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies (London: Routledge, 2004), 81. The Canadian actress Mary Pickford was known as “America’s Sweetheart.” She wrote an autobiography, Sunshine and Shadow (New York: Doubleday, 1955).

4. “The pride and business sense of such men urged them to find means of repressing Zukor before he could acquire dictatorial power.” Richard D. MacCann, The First Tycoons (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1987), 162. See also Benjamin B. Hampton, A History of the Movies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932), 176.

5. The portrait of William W. Hodkinson comes from his personal papers, held by the UCLA research library, which include his own journal, letters, transcripts of interviews, and unpublished essays. Also helpful is Bernard F. Dick, Engulfed: The Death of Paramount Pictures and the Birth of Corporate Hollywood (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001).

6. “Behind-the-scenes Intrigue at Paramount: Testimony of Al Lichtman,” New York Telegraph, April 25, 1923.

7. This description of Paramount under Hodkinson can be found in Balio, United Artists, 9.

8. As quoted in Lewis Jacobs, The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1947), 93.

9. The auteur filmmaking model is contrasted with the central producer model, as described in Joseph Lampel, “The Genius Behind the System: The Emergence of the Central Producer System in the Hollywood Motion Picture Industry,” in Joseph Lampel, Jamal Shamsie, and Theresa K. Lant, eds., The Business of Culture: Strategic Perspectives on Entertainment and Media (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2006), 41–56.

10. Jacobs, Rise of the American Film, 287.

11. One of Zukor’s agents was Benjamin Hampton, who later wrote about this time period. This account is based mostly on Hodkinson’s journal and letters, Bernard F. Dick’s Engulfed, and Benjamin Hampton, A History of the Movies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1932).

12. From a transcript of a 1966 interview with Hodkinson, in his papers.

13. Hampton, History of the Movies, 154–61.

14. Dick, Engulfed, 11.

15. Hampton, History of the Movies, 153–54. This quote is from Cecil B. DeMille’s autobiography. Cecil B. DeMille and Donald Hayne, The Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1959), 152.

16. This number comes from Richard Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment: The Age of the Silent Picture Feature, 1915–1928 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), 73.

17. Jacobs, Rise of the American Film, 166. Details of the agreements with Chaplin and Pickford come from Kozarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, 74–77.

18. Hampton, History of the Movies, 196.

19. To read more about Zukor’s bold stock offering, see Tino Balio, The American Film Industry, 2nd ed. (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 121. Hampton, History of the Movies, 255.

20. Olson’s main work on group and organizational behavior is in Mancur Olson, The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971).

21. Hampton, History of the Movies, 253.

22. Ibid., 255. See also Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, 75.

23. Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, 75.

24. On Ford’s economics, see Bernard Doray, From Taylorism to Fordism: A Rational Madness (London: Free Association Books, 1988).

25. Koszarski, An Evening’s Entertainment, 75.

26. Hampton, History of the Movies, 267.

27. As quoted in Clyde L. King, Frank A. Tichenor, and Gordon S. Watkins, The Motion Picture in Its Economic and Social Aspects (Trenton, FL: Ayer Publishing, 1970), 133.

28. Federal Trade Commission v. Famous Players–Lasky Corporation et al., Complaint No. 835, in The Annual Report of the Federal Trade Commission: For the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1922 (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1922).

29. Ibid., 131. See In the Matter of Famous Players–Lasky Corporation et al., 11 FTC 187 (1927).

30. The Frankenstein quote is from an unpublished 1935 essay found in Hodkinson’s papers entitled “After Block Booking—What?” The early use of block booking is described in Balio, American Film Industry, 117–18.

31. P. S. Harrison, “Give the Movie Exhibitor a Chance!” in Waller, ed., Moviegoing in America, 211–13.

32. Ibid., 212.

33. The two U.S. Supreme Court cases are U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, 334 U.S. 131 (1948), and U.S. v. Loew’s, 371 U.S. 38 (1962). These decisions are discussed in Balio, American Film Industry, 560–61.

34. U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, 157.

35. George J. Stigler, “United States v. Loew’s, Inc.: A Note on Block-Booking,” Supreme Court Review (1963), 152–57.

36. This example is drawn from ibid., 152–53.

37. This idea was developed in Benjamin Klein and Roy Kenney, “The Economics of Block Booking,” Journal of Law and Economics 26 (1983): 497–540.

38. U.S. v. Loew’s, 49.

39. Pauline Kael, “Why Are Movies So Bad? or, The Numbers,” New Yorker, June 23, 1980, 82–93.

40. Balaban himself wrote a history of the early Chicago movie palaces: David Balaban, The Chicago Movie Palaces of Balaban and Katz (Chicago: Arcadia Publishing, 2006) 103–6. Other sources on this period of film history are Lee Grieveson and Peter Kramer, The Silent Cinema Reader (London: Routledge, 2004), 273; Douglas Gomery, The Coming of Sound: A History (New York: Routledge, 2005), 11; and Balio, American Film Industry, 223.

41. 2.5 million was the number claimed; see Douglas Gomery, “Fashioning an Exhibition Empire, Promotion, Publicity, and the Rise of Publix Theatres,” in Gregory Albert Waller, ed., Moviegoing in America: A Sourcebook in the History of Film Exhibition (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2002). The sale to Warner Bros. is described in Bordwell, Staiger, and Thompson, Classical Hollywood Cinema, 399.

42. This account of the film industry lobbying the FTC and the appointment of Myers comes from Louis Pizzitola, Hearst over Hollywood: Power, Passion, and Propaganda in the Movies (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 248.

43. To read about the success of the Warner brothers and their studio in the words of their descendants, see Cass W. Sperling, Cork Millner, and Jack Warner, Jr., Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Warner Brothers Story, 2nd ed. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1998), 84. For Tally’s fate, see “Thomas L. Tally, Film Pioneer, Dies.” New York Times, November 25, 1945, Obituaries. See also DeMille and Hayne, Autobiography of Cecil B. DeMille, 152. “That character” is from Hodkinson’s papers.


1. These “sustaining” programs and this interesting period in network history, particularly relating to NBC, can be read in Michele Hilmes and Michael Lowell Henry, NBC: America’s Network (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2007), 17.

2. This observation would prove prescient as American communications culture would continue to be dominated by mass production for decades. The original may be read in Lawrence P. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity: Edwin Howard Armstrong, a Biography (New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1956), 19–20.


1. Leo Beranek supplied a copy of Hush-A-Phone’s letterhead. The product was the subject of an article in Popular Mechanics, February 1941, 230.

2. Much of the Hush-A-Phone story is based on interviews with Leo Beranek and on his autobiography, Riding the Waves: A Life in Sound, Science, and Industry (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008), 91. The hearing and appeal may be found respectively at “In the Matter of Hush-A-Phone Corp. et al., Decision,” 20 FCC 391 (1955), and Hush-A-Phone v. U.S., 238 F.2d 266 (D.C. Cir. 1956).

3. The early voice mail machine is described in Mark Clark, “Suppressing Innovation: Bell Laboratories and Magnetic Recording,” Technology and Culture vol. 34, no. 3 (1993): 516, 529.

4. Compare Richard Posner, “The Social Costs of Monopoly and Regulation,” Journal of Political Economy, vol. 83, no. 4 (1975).

5. As Clark writes, “the suppression was so effective that historians who have relied on the published record have rendered a highly incomplete picture of Bell Laboratories’ activities.” Clark, “Suppressing Innovation,” 517, 536.

6. Ibid., 534.

7. The descriptions of the Hush-A-Phone hearing with the FCC, and all direct quotes from the hearing, are from Telecommunication Reports, January 30, 1950. Additional material comes from Beranek, Riding the Waves, 91–92, and from an interview with Beranek.

8. Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 171. “If you want a Jew to do something,” wrote Black, paraphrasing Breen, “you don’t ask him politely—you just tell him.”

9. This AT&T quality control argument is drawn from the initial 1950 hearing with the FCC, reported in “In the Matter of Hush-A-Phone Corp. et al., Decision,” 20 FCC 415 (1955).

10. Nelson and Winter’s absorbing “evolutionary” theory—the book’s jacket flap calls it “the most sustained and serious attack on mainstream, neoclassical economics in more than forty years”—may be read in full in Richard R. Nelson and Sidney G. Winter, An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1985).

11. Fred W. Henck and Bernard Strassburg, A Slippery Slope: The Long Road to the Breakup of AT&T (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), 38.

12. “In the Matter of Hush-A-Phone Corp. et al., Decision,” 20 FCC 419.

13. Hush-A-Phone, 238 F.2d 269.

14. Ibid.


1. Daniel A. Lord, “George Bernard Shaw,” Catholic World April–September 1916, 36–37; for a (rather dry) account of his life, see Daniel A. Lord, Played by Ear: The Autobiography of Daniel A. Lord, S.J. (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1956).

2. Time magazine, September 13, 1926.

3. On Breen, see Thomas Patrick Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor: Joseph I. Breen and the Production Code Administration (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 21. Excerpts from Breen’s letters concerning his views are in Gregory D. Black, Hollywood Censored: Morality Codes, Catholics, and the Movies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), 70. This quote comes from a letter Breen wrote to Reverend Wilfrid Parsons. For more on Breen and Jews, see Doherty, 199–225.

4. Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor, 198.

5. Mark LaSalle, “Pre-Code Hollywood,” Green Cine,

6. Frank Walsh, Sin and Censorship: The Catholic Church and the Motion Picture Industry (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996), 76.

7. For the entire pledge, and more on the Church’s efforts to control the content of films, see Thomas Patrick Doherty, Pre-Code Hollywood: Sex, Immorality, and Insurrection in American Cinema 1930–1934 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 321.

8. Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor, 203.

9. For a discussion of the federal government’s near-intervention into film censorship, as well as a discussion of the study done on the effects of film on children, see Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor, 59.

10. Leonard L. Jeff and Jerold L. Simmons, The Dame in the Kimono: Hollywood, Censorship, and the Production Code (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001), 54–55.

11. Ibid., 38.

12. Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor, 352.

13. Mark LaSalle, “Pre-Code Hollywood,” Green Cine,

14. Holmes never actually used the phrase, but it derives from his dissenting opinion in Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919).

15. Quoted in Doherty, Hollywood’s Censor, 7, 75.

16. Ibid., 79.

17. Mark LaSalle, “Pre-Code Hollywood,” Green Cine,


1. Engineer Edwin Armstrong, the man behind the research and development of FM radio at Columbia University, was a fascinating, and ultimately tragic, character. As we will see in this chapter, Armstrong spent a great deal of time and money in the latter portion of his life defending FM radio against the FCC and the major broadcasting networks, particularly David Sarnoff’s RCA. One excellent biography of Armstrong that is referenced and utilized throughout this chapter is Lawrence P. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity: Edwin Howard Armstrong, a Biography (New York: J. B. Lippincott, 1956). Another interesting source, covering more than Armstrong is Tom Lewis, Empire of the Air: The Men Who Made Radio (New York: HarperCollins, 1991). Columbia University’s Electrical Engineering Department is another useful source: see Yannis Tsividis, “Edwin Armstrong: Pioneer of the Airwaves,” Columbia University,,isc-pages/armstrong_main.html?mode=interactive (accessed February 2010).

2. Armstrong and David Sarnoff’s secretary, Marion MacInnes, were married in 1923. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 154.

3. This move to the state-of-the-art Empire State Building laboratory and the subsequent experiments conducted there by Armstrong are discussed in Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 219, and Frank Northen Magill, Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series (Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, 1991), 940.

4. This exchange is recounted in Lewis, Empire of the Air, 263.

5. For an overview of the Empire State Building experiments and Armstrong’s subsequent expulsion to make way for RCA’s television broadcast experiments, see Christopher H. Sterling and John M. Kittross, Stay Tuned: A Concise History of American Broadcasting, 3rd ed. (London: Routledge, 2002), 156–60.

6. Lawrence Lessing recounts the stunned reaction of listeners to the first public demonstration of the FM radio broadcast conducted by Armstrong in 1935, discussed later in this chapter in more detail. The broadcast, Lessing notes, was revolutionary not only because it was a new technological achievement, but also because the sound was being conveyed “with a life-like clarity never heard on even the best clear-channel stations in the regular broadcast band.” Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 209–10.

7. Ibid., 232–38.

8. The radio industry’s close relationship to the federal government, and particularly the FCC during the period discussed in this chapter, is explored in Philip T. Rosen, The Modern Stentors: Radio Broadcasters and the Federal Government, 1920–1934, (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980).

9. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 209.

10. The term “radio’s second chance” was most famously used in the 1946 book by the same name authored by Charles Siepmann. The driving concept behind Siepmann’s book was primarily that radio had not lived up to its early idealistic promise and that FM radio potentially had the power to both increase sound quality and reach beyond the major broadcast networks’ stranglehold on content, which was, in his view, negatively over-commercialized. Charles Arthur Siepmann, Radio’s Second Chance (New York: Little, Brown, 1946).

11. The shift in band, along with the new rules and their justification, can be found in FCC, Eleventh Annual Report (Washington, DC: USGPO, 1945), Twelfth Annual Report (1946), and Thirteenth Annual Report (1947); see also Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 258–60.

12. See United States Congress, House Committee on Ways and Means, Hearings (1950), 197.

13. “In 1979, for the first time, FM passed AM in overall market shares, and, in succeeding years, increased its lead. FM, once the unwanted, ill-treated sibling of AM, had become the desired, admired, and more popular medium.” F. Leslie Smith, John W. Wright II, and David H. Ostroff, Perspectives on Radio and Television: Telecommunication in the United States (New York: Routledge, 1998), 63.

14. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 260.

15. Lessing’s biography of Armstrong contains an excellent chapter detailing the litigation: “The Last Battle.” The chapter details the fairly epic struggle a lone inventor faces when litigating against a corporation with virtually unlimited capital to fund strategically protracted litigation. Lessing, Man of High Fidelity, 279–85. Another source is Harold Evans, Gail Buckland, and David Lefer, They Made America (New York: Little, Brown, 2004).


1. This anecdote about Baird’s 1926 demonstration can be found in Antony Kamm and Malcolm Baird, John Logie Baird: A Life (Edinburgh: National Museums of Scotland, 2002), 55, 69. For another perspective, see Tom McArthur and Peter Waddell, The Secret Life of John Logie Baird (London: Hutchinson, 1986). See also Donald F. McLean, Restoring Baird’s Image (London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2000), 38. To read about Baird in the history of early television, see Albert Abramson, The History of Television, 1880 to 1941 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1987). A concise biography of Baird can be found in Christopher H. Sterling, “Baird, John Logie (1888–1946)” in Horace Newcomb, ed., Encyclopedia of Television, vol. I, 2nd ed. (New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2004), 201–2.

2. The Baird undersock was made of unbleached half-hose material sprinkled with borax powder, as described in Russell W. Burns, John Logie Baird: Television Pioneer (London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 2000), 18. Accounts of the Baird undersock and pneumatic shoe can also be found in David E. Fisher and Marshall Fisher, Tube: The Invention of Television (Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint, 1996), 24–27.

3. This excerpt from Baird’s journal can be found in an interesting book which describes how various household products were born. David Lindsay, “Television,” in House of Invention: The Secret Life of Everyday Objects (New York: Lyons Press, 2000), 133–42.

4. The Times article details the January 1926 demonstration and describes the image that Baird transmitted. “On This Day,” The Times, January 28, 1985, H13.

5. Jenkins published a description of his discoveries in Charles F. Jenkins, Vision by Radio, Radio Photographs, Radio Photograms (Washington, DC: Jenkins Laboratories, 1925). See also Charles F. Jenkins, Radiomovies, Radiovision, Television (Washington, DC: National Capital Press, 1929). Jenkins was named “Father of Television” by The New York Times, as quoted by historian Gary R. Edgerton, The Columbia History of American Television (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007), 29. A concise biography of Jenkins can be found in Steve Runyon, “Jenkins, Charles Francis (1867–1934),” in Newcomb, ed., Encyclopedia of Television, 1218–20.

6. The newspaper article included a picture of Farnsworth holding the parts of his television set. “S.F. Man’s Invention to Revolutionize Television,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1928, section 2.

7. The New York Times credited Baird with leading the international race to achieve a practical television. Clair Price, “A Saga of the Radio Age—and Its Hero,” New York Times, March 27, 1927, SM6. The Federal Radio Commission issued the first television license to Jenkins in 1928, authorizing him to operate at a power of 250 W. See R. W. Burns, Television: An International History of the Formative Years (London: Institution of Electrical Engineers, 1998), 205. The number of viewers was reported in 1929 by the New York Evening World; see Edgerton, Columbia History of American Television, 30.

8. In the forty-minute broadcast, two actors performed a one-act play in a locked room before three cameras and a microphone. Russell B. Porter, “Play Is Broadcast by Voice and Acting in Radio-Television,” New York Times, September 12, 1928, 1.

9. As quoted in the biography of Baird by Ronald F. Tiltman, Baird of Television (New York: Arno Press, 1974), 170.

10. Jenkins’s public offering is described in Edgerton, Columbia History of American Television, 31. Baird described this deal in his memoirs, John L. Baird and Malcolm Baird, Television and Me: The Memoirs of John Logie Baird, 2nd ed. (Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 2004), 114.

11. A technical description of mechanical television, along with useful diagrams, can be found in A. G. Jensen, “The Evolution of Modern Television,” in Raymond Fielding, ed., A Technological History of Motion Pictures and Television: An Anthology from the Pages of the Journal of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), 235–38.

12. The Daily News ran this article on December 30, 1926, as quoted in Burns, Television: An International History, 206.

13. This ad can be found at

14. The advertisement can be found in James N. Miller, “The Latest in Television,” Popular Mechanics, September 1929, 472–76.

15. In the article, Sarnoff writes that television is still in an experimental stage and will require careful nurturing to grow into a great public service. David Sarnoff, “Forging an Electric Eye to Scan the World,” New York Times, November 18, 1928.

16. The report, written by Alfred Goldsmith, concluded that only RCA could “be depended upon to broadcast television material with high technical and program quality.” As quoted in Michele Hilmes, Hollywood and Broadcasting: From Radio to Cable (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 28.

17. To read more about Jenkins and his struggles with the FCC, see James A. Von Schilling, The Magic Window: American Television, 1939–1953 (Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press, 2003), 3, 13.

18. The FCC requirements for a licensed broadcaster can be found reprinted in Robert Stern, The FCC and Television: The Regulatory Process in an Environment & Rapid Technological Innovation (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1950).

19. To learn more about the formative years of BBC, see Burton Paulu, Television and Radio in the United Kingdom (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981). See also Ronald Simon, BBC Television: Fifty Years, November 14, 1986–January 31, 1987 (New York: Museum of Broadcasting, 1987). To read about Germany’s broadcast of the Olympic games, see Arnd Krüger, “Germany: The Propaganda Machine,” in Arnd Krüger and William J. Murray, eds., The Nazi Olympics: Sport, Politics, and Appeasement in the 1930s (Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 2003), 27–43. See also David Welch, The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda, 2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 1993).

20. “S. F. Man’s Invention to Revolutionize Television,” San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1928. See also Evan I. Schwartz, The Last Lone Inventor: A Tale of Genius, Deceit, and the Birth of Television (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), 137.

21. Schwartz, Last Lone Inventor, 123.

22. Ibid., 13.

23. This anecdote about the disastrous Crystal Palace fire comes from ibid., 224.

24. This account of Sarnoff at the World’s Fair comes from Von Schilling, Magic Window, 5. A contemporary description and photograph appear in “Radio Living Room of Tomorrow,” Popular Mechanics, vol. 72, no. 2, August 1939, 300.

25. For the New Yorker quote, David Hillel Gelertner, 1939, “The Lost World of the Fair” (1995), 167. Sarnoff is described in glowing terms in the piece. See Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner, “David Sarnoff,” in People of the Century, Time / CBS News (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1999), 162–65, 163.

26. Schwartz, 272.

27. See David Sarnoff’s testimony before the FCC at Washington, D.C., on November 14, 1938, and May 17, 1939, published in Principles and Practices of Network Radio Broadcasting: Testimony of David Sarnoff (New York: RCA Institutes Technical Press, 1939), 16.

28. Walter Lippmann, “The TV Problem,” Today and Tomorrow, October 27, 1959, in Clinton Rossiter and James Lare, eds., The Essential Lippmann: A Political Philosophy for Liberal Democracy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 411–13.


1. Harold Orlans, Contracting for Atoms: A Study of Public Policy Issues Posed by the Atomic Energy Commission’s Contracting for Research, Development, and Managerial Services (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1967), 33.

2. For the terms of the 1956 consent decree in the suit against AT&T, see Gerald W. Brock, Telecommunication Policy for the Information Age: From Monopoly to Competition (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 71–72.

3. For the statement of the Bell engineers, see Constantine Raymond Kraus and Alfred W. Duerig, The Rape of Ma Bell: The Criminal Wrecking of the Best Telephone System in the World (Secaucus, NJ: Lyle Stuart, 1988), 13. For Goldwater’s statement, see ibid., 103.

4. The statistics here are drawn from U.S. v. Paramount Pictures, 85 F. Supp. 881 (S.D.N.Y. 1949). For a general discussion of statistics on first-run theaters in 1930s-1940s Hollywood, see Andrew Hanssen, “The Block Booking of Films Re-examined,” in John Sedgwick and Michael Pokorny, eds., An Economic History of Film (New York: Routledge, 2005), 121–51.

5. Thurman W. Arnold, The Folklore of Capitalism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1937), 211. Indeed, in light of these conflicting impulses, Arnold believed that the antitrust laws in this country were systematically underenforced. See ibid., 207–30.

6. Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., The Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution in American Business (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1977).

7. “Arnold Demands a New Movie Deal,” New York Times, April 23, 1940, 19. For the case against the AMA, see United States v. American Medical Association, 110 F. 2d 703 (D.C. Cir. 1940). For the Supreme Court’s 1938 remand in the case against the studios, see Interstate Circuit v. United States, 304 U.S. 55 (1938).

8. For the final 1948 Supreme Court decision in what has become known as “the Paramount case,” see United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., 334 U.S. 131 (1948).

9. For Crandall’s argument that the Paramount case did not result in downward pressure on ticket prices, see Robert W. Crandall, “Postwar Performance of the Motion-Picture Industry: The Economics,” Antitrust Bulletin 20 (1975): 61. For Anderson’s comment, and a further discussion of the blossoming television industry’s impact on the film industry, see Martin Halliwell, American Culture in the 1950s (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), 147. For Anderson’s original work, see Christopher Anderson, Hollywood TV: The Studio System in the Fifties (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994), 1.

10. Richard E. Caves, Creative Industries: Contracts Between Art and Commerce (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002), 95–96.

11. For a discussion of the key players and events in ushering in the New Hollywood without the constraints of the Production Code, see Peter Biskind, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-and Rock ’N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (New York: Simon and Schuster Paperbacks, 1998), 23–52.

12. Jack Valenti, The Voluntary Movie Rating System: How It Began, Its Purpose, the Public Reaction (pamphlet, 1996).

13. The Production Code became progressively less onerous through the 1950s and ’60s. In 1968 it was abandoned in its entirety in favor of the MPAA rating system. See Geoff King, New Hollywood Cinema: An Introduction(London: IB Tauris, 2002), 31. For a general discussion of the development and identity of the New Hollywood, see ibid., 1–33.


1. For the full text of the memorandum, see J.C.R. Licklider, “Memorandum for Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network,”,

2. For Licklider’s early years and career, see H. Peter Alesso and Craig Forsythe Smith, Connections: Patterns of Discovery (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, 2008), 60; for his life, M. Mitchell Waldrop, The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal (New York: Penguin, 2002).

3. For Rheingold’s description of the AN/FSQ-7, see Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), 142–44.

4. J.C.R. Licklider, “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” IRE Transactions on Human Factors in Electronics HFE-1 (1960): 4.

5. John Markoff, What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry (New York: Penguin, 2005), 9.

6. For an extensive discussion of Baran’s career and innovations, see Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 53–67.


1. The opening story is based on the author’s interview with Ralph Lee Smith, September 14, 2008. His article is “The Wired Nation,” Nation, May 18, 1970, 582.

2. For a discussion of the project and the controversy it caused, see Richard P. Hunt, “Expressway Vote Delayed by City: Final Decision Is Postponed After 6-Hour Hearing,” New York Times, December 7, 1962; see also Hilary Ballon and Kenneth T. Jackson, eds., Robert Moses and the Modern City: The Transformation of New York (New York: W. W. Norton, 2008).

3. Books on the history of the American cable industry are relatively rare. See Megan Mullen, The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003), 90–93; Patrick Parsons, Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008); and Patrick R. Parsons and Robert M. Frieden, The Cable and Satellite Television Industries (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1997). See also Brian Lockman and Don Sarvey, Pioneers of Cable Television: The Pennsylvania Founders of an Industry (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2005).

4. Hearings Before the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, United States Senate, 85th Cong., 2d Sess., 1959 (statement of William C. Grove).

5. House Committee on the Judiciary, 89th Cong., Copyright Law Revision Part 6, Supplementary Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law: 1965 Revision Bill 42 (Comm. Print 1965).

6. U.S. Cong. House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice Hearings, 92d Cong. (1972) (statement of Jack Valenti), reprinted in 15 Omnibus Copyright Revision Legislative History 727 (George S. Grossman, ed., 1976).

7. 392 U.S. 390 (1968).

8. Stanley M. Besen and Robert W. Crandall, “The Deregulation of Cable Television,” 44 Law & Contemporary Problems 77 (1981): 93.

9. On his life, see Ralph Engelman and Morley Safer, Friendlyvision: Fred Friendly and the Rise and Fall of Television Journalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); See It Now’s confrontation with McCarthy is the subject of Thomas Rosteck, See It Now Confronts McCarthyism: Television Documentary and the Politics of Representation (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1994), and of the 2005 film Good Night and Good Luckdirected by George Clooney.

10. Mullen, Rise of Cable Programming, 84.

11. Fred Friendly, “Asleep at the Switch of the Wired City,” Saturday Review, October 10, 1970, 58.

12. Sloan Commission on Cable Communications, On the Cable: The Television of Abundance: Report (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1971), 119. The report examines the history and technology of cable, contemplates its potential, and makes suggestions as to its development.

13. See the Cabinet Committee on Cable Communications (1974), Cable: Report to the President. A summary and discussion of the Nixon Cabinet Committee’s recommendations is in David Waterman and Andrew A. Weiss, Vertical Integration in Cable Television (Washington, DC: AEI Press, 1997), 1–2. For a discussion of the “separations policy,” the “open skies” policy, and other developments in the regulation of the cable industry through the end of the Nixon administration, see Parsons, Blue Skies, 297–341.

14. The “wringer” quote is in All the President’s Men, 2nd ed. (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994), 105.


1. Testimony on S. 1167 before the Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly, July 9, 1974.

2. The picture of John deButts comes mainly from Steve Coll, The Deal of the Century: The Breakup of AT&T (New York: Atheneum, 1986); Kristin McMurran, “A.T.& T. Chairman John deButts Puts on Golden Glow and a Big Smile for a Ma Bell TV Pitch,” People, November 28, 1977; and his obituary in The New York Times.

3. For the excerpt from Judge Posner, see Richard Posner, “The Decline and Fall of AT&T: A Personal Recollection,” Federal Communications Law Journal 61 (2008): 15. For the excerpt on Bell’s advocating for absolute control of the system, see “In the Matter of Use of the CarterFone Device in Message Toll Telephone Service,” 1968 WL 13208, 4 (FCC, June 26, 1968).

4. For a full discussion of the MCI episode, see Alan Stone, How America Got Online (New York: M. E. Sharpe, 1997), 61–81.

5. For the Carterfone case, see CarterFone Device, 1968 WL 13208. For a discussion of the FCC’s phone jack standardization requirements after CarterFone, see Steven M. Besen and Garth Saloner, “The Economics of Telecommunication Standards,” in Robert W. Crandall and Kenneth Flamm, eds., Changing the Rules: Technological Change, International Competition, and Regulation in Communications (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1989), 210.

6. For a brief discussion of Hayes Corp.’s rise and fall, see Claus E. Heinrich and Bob Betts, Adapt or Die: Transforming Your Supply Chain into an Adaptive Business Network (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), 3–4.

7. For a discussion of the 1971 FCC Computer I decision, see Alan Pearce, “Computer Inquiry I, II, and III—Computers and Communications: Convergence, Conflict, or Policy Chaos,” in Fritz E. Froehlich and Allen Kent, eds., The Froehlich/Kent Encyclopedia of Telecommunications, vol. 4 (New York: Marcel Dekker, 1992), 219–331.

8. The bill for which AT&T lobbied Congress was often referred to by its critics as the “Bell Bill,” or the “Monopoly Protection Act of 1976.” See “Communications: A Bill for Ma Bell,” Time, May 4, 1976.

9. For Faulhaber’s views, see, generally, Gerald R. Faulhaber, Telecommunications in Turmoil: Technology and Public Policy (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1987).

10. For a full discussion of the MCI episode, see Stone, How America Got Online, 61–81.

11. For the full text of Judge Greene’s opinion in the case, see U.S. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 552 F. Supp. 131 (D.D.C. 1982). For a more in-depth look at the disposition of the antitrust suit against AT&T through the Reagan administration, see Robert Britt Horwitz, The Irony of Regulatory Reform: The Deregulation of American Telecommunications (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 239–43.

12. Sometime after divestiture, Henry Geller, the distinguished FCC policy insider, interviewed Charlie Brown and Judge Greene on their thoughts as to why AT&T agreed to the breakup; their consensus seems to be that even were AT&T to have prevailed in the instant suit, it would have remained under constant pressure from the Justice Department and would ultimately have been forced to capitulate. See “Questions and Answers with the Three Major Figures of Divestiture,” in Barry G. Cole, ed., After the Break-Up: Assessing the New Post-AT&T Divestiture Era (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), 21–50.

13. “9 Years of Litigation Ends: AT&T Clears Way for Bell System Breakup,” Sarasota Herald Tribune, August 4, 1983, Business section.


1. Zamenhof first published his idea for an international language in 1889. Ludwik Ł. Zamenhof, La Lingvo Internacia (Korn, 1889). Zamenhof introduced the language that came to be known as Esperanto to Americans in L. Ł. Zamenhof, “What Is Esperanto?” North American Review 184: 606 (January 4, 1907), 15–21. For more background information, see Peter G. Forster, The Esperanto Movement (The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1982).

2. Zamenhof’s early writing contains a strong sense of idealism and hope. Ludwik Ł. Zamenhof, An Attempt Towards an International Language, trans. Henry Phillips (New York: Henry Holt, 1889), 5.

3. Esperanto has been a remarkably strong movement in China; see Gerald Chan, “China and the Esperanto Movement,” Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 15 (January 1986): 1–18.

4. Vinton G. Cerf is vice president and chief Internet evangelist at Google Inc. These quotes and opinions were obtained in an interview with the author in June 2008.

5. To read about AT&T at the time of the Internet’s inception, see Christopher H. Sterling, Phyllis Bernt, and Martin B. H. Weiss, Shaping American Telecommunications: A History of Technology, Policy, and Economics (New York: Routledge, 2006). To read how Vint Cerf, Robert Kahn, and Robert Metcalf interacted with AT&T, see their individual entries in Laura Lambert et al., The Internet: A Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (New York: MTM Publishing, 2005).

6. “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication” in Jeremy M. Norman, ed., From Gutenberg to the Internet: A Sourcebook on the History of Information Technology (Novato, CA:, 2005) 871–90.

7. As quoted in Alfred L. Malabre, Jr., Lost Prophets: An Insider’s History of the Modern Economists (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press, 1994), 220.

8. Friedrich A. Hayek, The Road to Serfdom (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1944).

9. This quote comes from Friedrich A. Hayek, Individualism and Economic Order (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 77.

10. Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown of Nations (London: Routledge & Paul, 1957), ix.

11. Schumacher’s idea of “enoughness” stemmed from his studies of what he called “Buddhist economics.” See Ernst F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered (New York: Harper & Row, 1973).

12. Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Vintage Books, 1961).

13. Frederick W. Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management (New York: Harper & Bros., 1911).

14. Jon Postel wrote this into the “Robustness Principle,” Section 2.10 of the Transmission Control Protocol (January 1980), available at

15. This paper announced the innovative end-to-end design principle. J. H. Saltzer, D. P. Reed, and D. D. Clark, “End-to-End Arguments in System Design,” ACM Transactions on Computer Systems (TOCS), vol. 2, issue 4 (November 1984), 277–88.

16. After January 1, 1983, ARPANET users could no longer use NCP, and the shift to TCP/IP was achieved. See Jane Abbate, Inventing the Internet (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999), 141.


1. This quote is part of a larger discussion of Turner’s burgeoning empire as he moved to found CNN: Harry F. Waters, “Ted Turner Tackles TV News,” Newsweek, June 16, 1980, 58. Two particularly useful biographies of Turner, alternately known as “Captain Outrageous” and the “Mouth of the South,” are Robert Goldberg and Gerald Jay Goldberg, Citizen Turner: The Wild Rise of an American Tycoon (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999), and Ken Auletta, Media Man: Ted Turner’s Improbable Empire (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004). Others include Porter Bibb, Ted Turner: It Ain’t as Easy as It Looks (New York: Crown Publishers, 1993), and Christian Williams, Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way: The Story of Ted Turner (New York: Times Books, 1981).

2. Ted Turner and Bill Burke, Call Me Ted (New York: Grand Central, 2008).

3. This statement was the lead-in to Turner’s comment to Newsweek that he was to take television off the path of destruction. It was followed by this rather melodramatic prophecy: “Someday, somebody will put a bullet in me,” he says sadly. “I would like to stay around for a while, but I really do believe that I’ll be assassinated.” Waters, “Ted Turner Tackles TV News,” 58.

4. For further insight into how the FCC drove the division of NBC into the separate NBC and ABC networks, see the Federal Communications Commission’s Report on Chain Broadcasting, Washington, DC, May 1941.

5. See Auletta, Media Man, 32–34, for an explanation of the cable model as pioneered by Turner and his TBS network.

6. Charles Haddad, “Ad Executives Love Turner Tales About Old Times and New,” Atlanta Constitution, March 5, 1999, H2.

7. Apparently taken from an interview with Bob Hope in the mid-1970s, this ironic quote by the founder of one of the nation’s most watched news networks is from Patrick Parsons, Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television(Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), 453.

8. This point is drawn from Becker’s book on modern cultural identities and sexual politics as examined through the lens of media coverage and representation of gay America: Ron Becker, Gay TV and Straight America (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2006), 86.

9. Cass R. Sunstein, 2.0 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), xi.

10. Ken Auletta, Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way (New York: Random House, 1991), 5.


1. An account of the rise and fall of United Artists, itself a story of open period filmmaking, may be found in Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1987).

2. Stephen Bach, then a young executive at United Artists, wrote a firsthand account of the failure of Heaven’s Gate and subsequent fallout in Stephen Bach, Final Cut: Art, Money and Ego in the Making of Heaven’s Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists, rev. ed. (New York: Newmarket Press, 1999). The quotes referenced above are drawn from page 360.

3. Vincent Canby, “ ‘Heaven’s Gate,’ a Western by Cimino,” New York Times, November 19, 1980, Cultural Desk, Late Edition.

4. Yakov Amihud and Baruch Lev, “Managerial Motives for Conglomerate Mergers,” Bell Journal of Economics 12 (1981): 605–17.

5. Aldous Huxley, “The Outlook for American Culture,” Harper’s Magazine, August 1927.

6. Economic perspectives on the film industry include John Sedgwick and Michael Pokorny, An Economic History of Film (New York: Routledge, 2005), and the interesting discussion of uncertainty and the film industry in Arthur S. De Vany, Hollywood Economics: How Extreme Uncertainty Shapes the Film Industry (London: Routledge, 2004).

7. Anderson’s theory, and his discussion of the interplay of “head” and “tail” consumer demand, may be found in Chris Anderson, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More (New York: Hyperion, 2006).

8. De Vany, Hollywood Economics, 4.

9. Steven Ross’s biography is gripping reading, and also provides a history of the creation of Time Warner. See Connie Bruck, Master of the Game: Steve Ross and the Creation of Time Warner (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1994).

10. General Electric 2008 Annual Report,

11. Roger Cohen, “The Creator of Time Warner, Steven J. Ross, Is Dead at 65,” New York Times, December 21, 1992.

12. The failure of the Atari E.T. game is recounted in Bruck, Master of the Game, 180. The E.T. game is rated #1 on most lists of the worst games of all time. See, e.g., Emru Townsend, “The 10 Worst Games of All Time,” PC World, October 23, 2006.

13. Betsy Schiffman, “Michael Eisner: Mouse in a Gilded Mansion,” Forbes, April 26, 2001.

14. This accusation was delivered by letter after Eisner’s resignation from the board. Alex Berenson, “The Wonderful World of (Roy) Disney,” New York Times, February 15, 2004, Financial Desk, Late Edition.

15. The Maltese Falcon case has been effectively overruled; see Warner Bros. Pictures v. Columbia Broadcasting System, 216 F.2d 945 (9th Cir. 1954).

16. Edward Jay Epstein’s theories on the modern film industry may be found in his The Big Picture: Money and Power in Hollywood (New York: Random House, 2005).

17. Richard Roeper, “Throw This God-Awful Sequel a Life Jacket; Even Funnyman Steve Carell Can’t Save a Movie That’s Drowning in Its Own Low Expectations,” Chicago Sun-Times, June 22, 2007, Movies.


1. The secret executive order was first reported in James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” New York Times, December 15, 2005. The two reporters were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their efforts; Eric Lichtblau later wrote Bush’s Law: The Remaking of American Justice (New York: Anchor Books, 2008).

2. Whitacre’s full statement is available online; see The AT&T and Bellsouth Merger: What Does It Mean for Consumers?—Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 109th Cong. (2006) 10–12 (statement of Edward E. Whitacre, Jr., Chairman and CEO, AT&T, Inc.), available at Senator Arlen Specter described the hearing in “The Need to Roll Back Presidential Power Grabs,” New York Review of Books 56:8 (May 14, 2009).

3. AT&T issued this statement of accountability in its annual report of 1911. AT&T, Annual Report of the American Telephone and Telegraph (New York: AT&T, 1911), 38. Whitacre’s aggressive tactics as CEO of SBC are discussed in Edmund L. Andrews, “Birth of a Giant: A Leader’s Vision,” New York Times, April 2, 1996, and Mark Landler, “Disdaining Regulators, Whitacre Carves Out SBC Empire,” New York Times, July 21, 1997. Whitacre’s statement appeared in Newsweek as part of a cover story on his success at SBC. Roger O. Crockett, “Whitacre Steps Up to the Mike,” Newsweek, April 12, 1999.

4. For Whitacre’s explanation of why he doesn’t use email, see Roger O. Crockett, “Résumé: Edward E. Whitacre, Jr.” Newsweek, April 12, 1999.

5. The cover story described how Whitacre built SBC into a “telecom profit machine,” but it predicted that the company would soon face fierce competition. Roger O. Crockett, “The Last Monopolist,” Businessweek, April 12, 1999.

6. As quoted in Albert B. Paine, In One Man’s Life: Being Chapters from the Personal & Business Career of Theodore N. Vail (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1921), 254.

7. Both Friedman and Stigler won Nobel Prizes in Economics for their work. A small sample includes Milton Friedman, A Theory of the Consumption Function (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1957); Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz, A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971); and George Stigler, “The Theory of Economic Regulation,” in George Stigler, ed., Chicago Studies in Political Economy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), 209–33.

8. President Bill Clinton made this statement in his State of the Union address. “Address Before a Joint Session of the Congress on the State of the Union,” Public Papers, vol. 1 (January 23, 1996), 79–87. For FCC chairman Reed Hundt’s remark, see The State of Competition in the Cable Television Industry: Hearing Before the House Committee on the Judiciary, 105th Cong. (1997) (statement of Reed E. Hundt, Chairman of FCC), available at

9. Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (codified in scattered sections of 47 U.S.C.). For other sources that discuss the Act, see Patricia Aufderheide, Communications Policy and the Public Interest: The Telecommunications Act of 1996 (New York: Guilford Press, 1999), and Robert W. Crandall, Competition and Chaos: U.S. Telecommunications Since the 1996 Telecom Act (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 2005).

10. The article presented SBC as a “case study” to show how the Baby Bells were flagrantly thwarting competition. Marc Farranti, “Stall Tactics,” Network World, December 8, 1997, 1, 49–53.

11. A list of lobbyists is maintained by Texas State Ethics Board and is available for 2003 at

12. Verizon Communications Inc. v. Trinko, LLP, 540 U.S. 398 (2004).

13. The FCC adopted the Triennial Review Order, which reconsidered the Baby Bells’ sharing obligations, on February 20, 2003, and released it on August 21, 2003. FCC, Triennial Review Order, 03-36 (2003), available at New York Times ran a short article discussing the order; see Jennifer Lee, “FCC Discloses New Rules for Telecom Industry,” New York Times, August 21, 2003.

14. AT&T and SBC made this statement in the initial application of consent to the FCC. In the Matter of AT&T Corp. and SBC Communications, Inc., Docket No. 05-65 (February 22, 2005), available at To read about how the deal came about, see Ken Belson and Matt Richtel, “A Telecommunications Architect,” New York Times, February 2, 2005. Verizon beat out competitor Qwest Communications in a bidding war for MCI; see Ken Belson and Matt Richtel, “Qwest Withdraws Bid After MCI Accepts Verizon Offer,” New York Times, May 3, 2005.

15. As quoted in Ellen Nakashima, “AT&T Gave Feds Access to All Web, Phone Traffic, Ex-Tech Says,” Seattle Times, November 8, 2007.

16. Klein’s description, along with some of his evidence, can be found at “Whistle-Blower’s Evidence, Uncut,”, May 22, 2005, available at

17. Ibid.

18. Ryan Singel, “AT&T Sued Over NSA Eavesdropping,”, January 31, 2006, available at The Los Angeles Times also reported on the cooperation between AT&T and the NSA. Josh Meyer and Joseph Menn, “U.S. Spying Is Much Wider, Some Suspect,” Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2005.

19. The United States moved to intervene on May 13, 2006: The United States also moved to dismiss, invoking the state secrets privilege: To read the final opinion, see Hepting v. AT&T Corp., 539 F.3d 1157 (9th Cir. 2008).

20. The measure amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978 and granted retroactive immunity to the telecommunications companies that assisted in surveillance. FISA Amendments Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-261, 122 Stat. 2436 (codified in scattered sections of 50 U.S.C.). Obama’s remark is quoted in Eric Lichtblau, “Senate Approves Bill to Broaden Wiretap Powers,” New York Times, July 10, 2008.

21. Whitacre’s retirement was reported in Matt Richtel, “AT&T Chief Who Weathered a Sea Change Is Retiring in June,” New York Times, April 28, 2007. See also Dionne Searcey, “A Pension to Retire For,” Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2007.


1. As told to The New York Times in Tim Arango, “How the AOL–Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong,” New York Times, January 10, 2010. For other sources on the AOL–Time Warner merger, see Johnnie L. Roberts, “How It All Fell Apart,” Newsweek, December 9, 2002, and three books: Nina Munk, Fools Rush In (New York: HarperCollins, 2004); Alec Klein, Stealing TIME: Steve Case, Jerry Levin, and the Collapse of AOL Time Warner (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003); and Kara Swisher, There Must Be a Pony In Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future (New York: Crown Business, 2003).

2. Case and Levin had also served together on the board of the New York Stock Exchange. Munk, Fools Rush In, 137.

3. Ibid., 74–76.

4. The succession, of course, was a story of corporate intrigue, and involved the ouster of Steven Ross and Levin’s joint enemy, Nick Nickolas, who was technically co-CEO with Ross and ought logically to have been Ross’s successor. See Christopher Byron, “As Ross Lay Dying,” New York magazine, January 4, 1993, 12. On Levin’s career, see, e.g., Klein, Stealing TIME, 80.

5. Levin was quoted in Roberts, “How It All Fell Apart,” cited above. Ted Turner’s full quote appears in Saul Hansell, “Media Megadeal: The Overview,” New York Times, January 11, 2000.

6. Steve Lohr, “AOL Merger Turns Tables on Microsoft,” New York Times, January 12, 2000.

7. Kramer defends the AOL–Time Warner merger in Larry Kramer, “Why the AOL–Time Warner Merger Was a Good Idea,” The Daily Beast, Blogs and Stories, May 4, 2009, available at

8. You can find the old Pathfinder site on the Internet Archive,

9. On Disney’s total merchandising strategy, see “All the Movies Are Geared to Publicizing … and Making Money,” Newsweek, December 1962, 48–51.

10. This figure was at the time of the merger. Klein, Stealing TIME, 259.

11. Ken Auletta, Media Man: Ted Turner’s Improbable Empire, 96.

12. The FTC and FCC both imposed conditions on the merger, including the “open access” provision referred to in the text, as well as conditions designed to maintain an open market for instant messaging, then thought to be a crucial platform for the future. See “In the Matter of America Online, Inc., and Time Warner Inc., File No. 001 0105, Docket No. C-3989; Applications for Consent to the Transfer of Control of Licenses and Section 214 Authorizations by Time Warner Inc. and America Online, Inc., Transferors, to AOL Time Warner Inc., Transferee,” 16 FCC Rcd. 6547 (2001).

13. Jay Greene, “Case vs. Gates: Playing for the Web Jackpot,” BusinessWeek, June 18, 2001, 42.

14. The power of states to shape the nature of the Internet is the topic of my first book, coauthored with Jack Goldsmith. See Tim Wu and Jack Goldsmith, Who Controls the Internet (New York: Oxford, 2006).


1. The quotes in this chapter from Steve Jobs and Eric Schmidt are drawn from the 2007 Macworld conference in San Francisco, or from a February 2010 interview with Eric Schmidt. Jobs’s entire keynote address from the 2007 Macworld event may be viewed at (last visited March 2010).

2. This title is official; see Google’s “Corporate Information” website, (last visited March 2010).

3. Tim Bray’s comment was made on a personal blog but cleared by Google and widely attributed to it. The blog post is at

4. This quote is drawn from the 1927 essay referenced throughout this book: Aldous Huxley, “The Outlook for American Culture,” Harper’s Magazine, August 1927.

5. One particularly interesting history of Wozniak and Jobs’s initial meeting and development of what would eventually become Apple, as well as the reinvention of the company in recent years with the development of popular modern Apple technology, may be found in Michael Moritz, Return to the Little Kingdom: Steve Jobs, the Creation of Apple, and How It Changed the World (New York: Overlook, 2009). Other descriptions of the early history of Apple include Roy A. Allen, A History of the Personal Computer: The People and the Technology (London, Ontario: Allen Publishing, 2001), 36.

6. This quote, as well as much of the Wozniakcentric information in this chapter, is drawn from Steve Wozniak’s autobiography, iWoz—Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer, Co-Founded Apple, and Had Fun Doing It (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006), 103.

7. Wozniak said this at his talk at Columbia University on September 28, 2006.

8. Matthew B. Crawford, Shop Class as Soulcraft (New York: Penguin, 2009); Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (New York: William Morrow, 1974). Pirsig’s book, while generally taken as a meditation on spirituality and technology, actually spends more time on complex epistemological questions that are hard to summarize. Wozniak, iWoz, 291.

9. This quote is from Leander Kahney, “How Apple Got Everything Right by Doing Everything Wrong,” Wired, March 18, 2008. In the article, Kahney also questions Apple and Google’s supposedly close relationship: “By Google’s definition, Apple is irredeemably evil, behaving more like an old-fashioned industrial titan than a different-thinking business of the future.” The book he was promoting with this article: Leander Kahney, Inside Steve’s Brain (New York: Penguin, 2008).

10. Herbert N. Casson, The History of the Telephone (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1910), 157.

11. The New York Times story is “Psychology of Telephone Girls,” New York Times, April 4, 1912. The effect of the financial panic on the telephone girls is described in Casson, History of the Telephone, 155.

12. The idea of describing Google as a switch comes from my colleague Charles Sabel at Columbia.

13. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Googlization of Everything: How One Company Is Transforming Culture, Commerce, and Community and Why We Should Worry (London: Profile Books, 2010).

14. This particular corporate tradition is described in Fred Turner, “Burning Man at Google: A Cultural Infrastructure for New Media Production,” New Media & Society 11 (2009): 145.

15. As quoted in, among other places, Janet Lowe, Google Speaks (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2009), 39. Google’s origins at Stanford are described in John Battelle, The Search (New York: Portfolio, 2005).

16. “At SBC, It’s All About ‘Scale and Scope,’ ” BusinessWeek, November 7, 2005.

17. SkyNews, interview with Rupert Murdoch, November 9, 2009, available at

18. These predictions form the thesis of Jonathan Zittrain, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008).

19. According to Wozniak, in an interview with Wired magazine. See Rachel Metz, “iWoz Logs Leap from Geek to Icon,”, August 24, 2006, available at

20. The blog post can be found at

21. For example, in a 2007 press release, Verizon announced it was committed to allowing any wireless device and any app on its network. See

22. The best account of such a future is a novel by Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (New York: Tor Books, 2003); it is also the evident vision of the Burning Man festival. On the relationship between the tech world and Burning Man, see Fred Turner, “Burning Man at Google,” 145.