The People's Network: The Telephone and the Fight for "Net Neutrality" 100 Years Ago
As part of our 2013-2014 History Speaker Series, Professor Robert MacDougall of Western University will discuss his book new book.
The Bell System dominated telecommunications in the United States and Canada for most of the twentieth century, but its monopoly was never inevitable.
In the decades around 1900, an extraordinary movement of ordinary people built their own telephone systems. Farmers, doctors, and small-town entrepreneurs created tens of thousands of these independent telephone companies, turning the telephone into a truly popular medium. When the Bell companies fought back, a fierce battle for control of the technology was joined.
But the battles over telephony a century ago were not only commercial contests. They involved crucial questions about how the emerging corporate order would be structured, and where commerce and information should flow. Great and abstract struggles‹national markets versus local economies, big business versus small, and even existential questions about social and political identity‹were fought by proxy over the telephone and its wires.
Free lunch will be served.
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1