Bell Telephone Company Organized
The Bell Telephone Company, a common law joint stock company, was organized on July 9, 1877 by Alexander Graham Bell's father-in-law Gardiner Greene Hubbard, who also helped organize a sister company — the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company. Bell Telephone was started on the basis of holding "potentially valuable patents", principally Bell's master telephone patent #174465. The two companies merged on February 17, 1879 to form the National Bell Telephone Company, at which time Theodore Vail took over its operations.
The National Bell Telephone Company merged with others on March 20, 1880 to form the American Bell Telephone Company.
The Bell Telephone System was once called "Ma Bell" or "the telephone company." The Bell Telephone System consisted of 24 Bell operating companies that became the "Baby Bells" comprising a huge network of telecommunications equipment. They provided service to the majority of the people living in the United States, and the center of the Bell System network was once the largest computer in the world. Bell System was known for providing the highest-quality telephone parts in the United States, but that ended in 1984. The telephone components were then manufactured by foreign companies for Western Electric, a leading telephone company.