Encyclopedia o f Chicago
Entries : Illinois Bell Telephone Co.
Illinois Bell Telephone Co.

Illinois Bell Telephone Co.

Chicago Telephone Company, n.d.
The Bell Telephone Co. of Illinois was chartered in 1878; three years later, it became part of the Chicago Telephone Co. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Chicago Telephone was associated with the Bell network of American Telephone & Telegraph Co. (AT&T), the largest phone company in the United States. The number of Chicago-area telephones served by this company grew from 34,000 in 1900 to roughly one million by 1930. By the early 1920s, Chicago Telephone employed about 16,000 people in the Chicago area; many of these employees were female operators. Illinois Bell continued to grow in the decades that followed, until it had roughly 36,000 Chicago-area employees by the early 1970s. After federal courts dismantled AT&T's Bell system in 1984, Illinois Bell became the largest division of Ameritech, the new, leading telecommunications company in the Midwest. At the end of the 1990s, when it employed about 20,000 people in the Chicago area and collected nearly $20 billion in annual revenues, Ameritech was purchased by SBC Communications Inc., another giant phone company and former “Baby Bell.” At the turn of the new century, the executive offices of the corporation serving most of the phone customers in the Chicago area were now located in San Antonio, Texas.