Last updated: October 20, 2008 - 8:17pm
Forty years ago the Federal Communications Commission issued one of the most important Orders in its history, a ruling that went unnoticed by most news sources at the time. It involved an application manufactured and distributed by one Mr. Thomas Carter of Texas. The "Carterfone" allowed users to attach a two-way radio transmitter/receiver to their telephone, extending its reach across sprawling Texas oil fields where managers and supervisors needed to stay in touch. Between 1955 and 1966, Carter's company sold about 3,500 of these applications around the United States and well beyond. In the end, however, Carterfone's significance extends far beyond the convenience that Thomas Carter's machine provided its users over a decade. It is no exaggeration to say that the our current telecommunications world was created, in good part, by the legal battle between Carter, AT&T, and the FCC's resolution of that fight—its Carterfone decision. The Carterfone saga starts as the appealing tale of one developer's willingness to stick to his guns. But it is really about the victory of two indispensable values: creativity and sharing.
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