Article 43


Thursday, September 27, 2007

In Memory Of Bell Labs


AS ALCATEL-LUCENT continues it’s COST-CUTTING initiative RATHER THAN taking the INITIATIVE TO INVEST in the company, and DRUM UP SOME BUSINESS, the HISTORIC LUCENT GROUNDS in HOLMDEL NEW JERSEY were sold last year - taking with it the home of Bell Labs [DOWNLOAD VIDEO], and symbol of American technology, prosperity and leadership.

Will the grounds be saved as a national landmark?  Maybe not.  It’s worth too much to INVESTORS as something they can chop into pieces and make lots of money from.

If it isn’t already - how much do you want to bet the new technology world leader will be communist CHINA, as AMERICA CONTINUES it’s RACE TO THE BOTTOM?


Help Save Bell Labs From The Wrecking Ball

By sellsius
Sellius Real Estate
June 29, 2006

Bells Labs Holmdel, NJ facility has been sold by Lucent Technologies & will be demolished soon. And NO ONE CARES. It should be protected on the National Register of Historic Sites or converted to a museum.

The scientists & engineers of Bell Labs brought seminal technological discoveries to the marketplace technology we take for granted. Join to save Bell Labs now! Spread the word to protect it from the wrecking ball.

Where do I to begin to describe the tech pioneer Bell Labs? If Bell Labs were only remembered for building the worldגs greatest communications system that would be enough. Without Bell Labs there might not have been a 800 phone network or 911, call-waiting or caller ID. But there was so much more.

Lets start with the discovery of the revolutionary transistor in 1947, stereo recording, the first long distance TV transmission, the laser (1958), the first FAX machine, the touch tone telephone (1963), digital signal processor (1979), modems, first orbiting communications satelite (Telstar I, 1962), fiber optics, pioneered the first trials of DSL technology, the first commercial mobile telephone service and, what many will argue is the Holy Grail of modern technology, UNIX & C programming language (1969-72), which made the Internet practical.

BELL LABS SCIENTISTS have won 11 Nobel prizes, 9 US National Medals of Science & 12 distinguished Computers & Communications awards from Japan, to cite but a few awards. Bell Labs inventions here.

The Internet community ought to act to save the Bell Labs facility & make it a historical site or a museum of technology. Pass the word through the innovations Bell Labs helped create. Do it now before this important home of technological history is turned into a parking lot or mall.



Developer To Raze Bell Labs Holmdel Facility, Birthplace Of The Cellphone

By Ryan Block
July 5, 2006

t’s not very often that we here at Engadget adopt an issue and stand behind it; one of the only notable examples includes the Broadcast Flag, which in 2004—very early on in its life—we made our feelings pretty well known. But when one Joseph Ferrara emailed us to point out a New York Times story that slipped beneath, well, just about everybody’s radar, we knew we had to look further into the matter. After all, it shouldn’t surprise you that we wouldn’t take it lightly when someone threatens to raze the birthplace of the cellphone.

The facility in question, one time Holmdel, New Jersey home to Bell Labs—one of the most prolific technology innovators of the 20th century—was owned by Lucent technologies until a recent round of asset liquidations. Barely 40 miles out of New York City, in its heydey the six-story, two million square foot campus, employed over 5,600 people who toiled away in its bowels; it became home to the work of numerous Nobel laureates, and has long since been cemented in the annals of tech history as the birthplace to some of the most important communications technologies ever conceived. And it’ll soon be torn down.

Designed and erected between 1957 and 1962 by the inimitable and infamous Eero Saarinen, Holmdel is former home to Bell Labs’ optical transmission, microwave, and wireless work, including the High-Speed Networks Research Department, High Speed Mobile Data Research Department, and Data Networking Systems Research Department. It was Holmdel’s Wireless Research Laboratory, however, and the work Richard Frenkiel and Joel Engel that ranks among all Bell Labs’ most notable contributions. In the early sixties Frenkeil and Engeld led a team of over 200 engineers to develop the first cellular wireless voice transmission technology, and eventually created AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System), the first and one of the most widely deployed cellphone technologies (still active even today in many parts of rural America). Holmdel is effectively the birthplace of global wireless movement, possibly the most crucial communications development of the 20th century, the internet notwithstanding. But there’s more. Lots more.

Before the current facility was erected, Harald Friis’ work at Holmdel in 1938 produced one of the first microwave communications and RADAR systems, which was utilized by the US in World War II to defend against enemy munitions; Friss also worked closely with Bell Labs scientist Karl Guthe Jansky at Holmdel, who developed there the rotating antenna (aka “Jansky’s merry-go-round") and was credited in 1933 with the discovery of the science of radio astronomy. This, in turn, gave birth to the research and work of two later Holmdel scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, who in 1964 used the Bell Labs’ infamous horn antenna (above) to lay the scientific groundwork for a little something we call the “Big Bang Theory” (for which they were jointly awarded 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics).

We could go on about Holmdel’s technological contributions, from Linn Mollenauer’s groundbreaking work in the development of multimode fiber transmission systems and Andrew Chraplyvy’s, Kenneth Walker’s, and Robert Tkach’s invention of optical fiber for dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM)—some of the technologies which now enable the fiber optic backbone of today’s internet infrastructure; to the lab’s direct contributions to Telstar, the first communications satellite, which prompted President Dwight D. Eisenhower to send a message of his own into space by way of Holmdel; to Jerry Foschini’s BLAST technology (1998), the original precursor to MIMO wireless transmission systems; to Steven Chu’s Nobel Prize-winning work in cooling and trapping atoms with lasers; to Arthur Schawlow’s and Charles Townes’ 1958 invention of the frickin’ laser. But somehow we think you get the point.

So what is to become of this irreplaceable landmark? Well, Lucent sold the site to a billion dollar real-estate developer known as Preferred Real Estate Investments, whose founder and CEO Michael O’Neill remarked the “useful life” of this facility is over. Perhaps O’Neill might is right that as a hotbed of technological ferment and advanced research and development Holmdel’s life may have come to an end—but certainly not so as a historic site for technology and the communications industry. Preferred Real Estate Investments has expressed their intentions not to repurpose the facility as such a historic site, or even retrofit the mammoth campus as an office space anew, but instead to raze and replace it with a three facility office park.

So if you’re anything like us, you immediately began wondering what we can do about this. Unfortunately they now own the property, so legally the general public’s options are limited. First, someone who knows the score needs to get in touch with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Historic Preservation Office and file with them to enter the Holmdel Bell Labs facility into the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places; though this might not ultimately make it an illegal act to destroy the labs, it would certainly make it morally and officially reprehensible for PREI to create their new office park; if nothing else, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 might at least call for an MOA for the facility to be properly documented for the ages in such an event that it is to be demolished.

The other option, of course, is to directly petition Preferred Real Estate Investments whose founder and CEO (Michael O’Neill), board of directors, and senior management can all be reached by phone or email here. (We will not post O’Neill’s email and phone number here—they’re currently listed under “Principals”—but we imagine a torrent of phone calls and emails might soon find that page removed from their site, so we assume you, dear readers, will take care of preserving that information for others.) We do not suggest anything but metered, reasonable, and kind—but firm—requests of PREI to suck up the financial burden and reinvigorate the Holmdel facility into a museum of science and technology—perhaps even under the auspices of Lucent—as well as gutting and repartitioning the old space for use by new technology companies in the New York metro area. Because honestly, it really doesn’t take a Bell Labs scientist to see what a remarkable and truly historic monument to man’s technological ingenuity the Holmdel facility is—while it’s still around, anyway.



Pastoral Site of Historic Inventions Faces the End

By Antoinette Martin
New York Times
June 7, 2006

HOLMDEL, N.J., June 7 җ For 44 years, a six-story, two-million-square-foot structure nestled here in a 472-acre exquisitely pastoral setting was a habitat for technological ferment.

The vaunted Bell Labs, whose scientists invented the laser and developed fiber optic and satellite communications, touch-tone dialing and cellphones, modems and microwaves, was housed in the glass building, set far off the road, providing the community with some luster not to mention a tax bonanza.

These days, the building’s lobby, with its magnificent glass ceiling, is off limits to all but those having formal appointments with Lucent Technologies, which disassembled and dispersed much of Bell Labs after the collapse of the technology market in 2000.

Few outsiders have viewed its breathtaking scale or walked along the perimeters to admire displays of technological breakthroughs like a 1929 movie camera or an early office switchboard straight out of “Bells Are Ringing.”

But now, the building has been sold, and the public will be invited in for at least one date while it remains, which may not be much longer. The developer who will create a future for the property says the structure will have to be demolished.

Preferred Real Estate Investments, a company based in Conshohocken, Pa., will maintain the site as office space and will keep the property as pastoral as possible, said its chief executive, Michael G. O’Neill. But Mr. O’Neill said his firm, which specializes in the reuse of outmoded commercial buildings, simply could not find a way to renovate this structure.

The soaring lobby is surrounded on three sides by stacks of windowless concrete-walled cubicles ח perfect for scientists, but unappealing to office workers of any other type he noted.

“So many of these lavish old commercial buildings have a great history to them, and then one day their useful life is over,” Mr. O’Neill said a bit wistfully.

When Lucent found itself needing to downsize and leave a special building behind, it was following in the footsteps of another New Jersey telecommunications giant, AT&T, which moved out of its opulent 2.7-million-square-foot headquarters in Basking Ridge in 2001. The AT&T building stood empty for four years ח considered nearly unmarketable by some commercial brokers. It did find a buyer last year in Verizon, which has begun renovations aimed at carving up its gargantuan spaces and stripping away some of the luxuries, like the waterfall in the cafeteria.

At one time, Lucent employed 5,600 people in Holmdel. The company plans to move the approximately 1,000 who remain to offices in Murray Hill and Whippany by the summer of 2007.

Right now, Mr. O’Neill said his primary focus was on providing reassurance to the citizenry of Holmdel that not much has to change in terms of the Lucent property’s historic impact on the town.

Bell Labs has been a cash cow in a picturesque setting paying $3.19 million in property taxes last year, while putting little strain on town services. Holmdel’s mayor, Serena DiMaso, and other town officials have been adamant that a housing development, which might require additional traffic control, new infrastructure and school spending, would not be a suitable replacement.

“I think there were about 20 other developers competing against us to buy the property,” Mr. O’Neill said, “and everybody we competed with wanted to put 500 to 600 houses here, and turn this into a big subdivision, but that is not our intent.

“Can you imagine? This incredible, expansive space ח cutting it up, and covering it over with yet another cookie-cutter community of McMansions?”

Mr. O’Neill, whose company recently converted a pre-World War I toilet factory in Hamilton, N.J., into plush office space, said plans for the Lucent site were in very early stages. It is expected, he said, that a public meeting about the property will be held inside the Bell Labs structure during the last week of this month.

On a walking tour of the property, Mr. O’Neill said he currently envisioned three smaller headquarters-type buildings in place of the one big lab structure, providing somewhat less total space than the Bell Labs building. “The size would be in keeping with the more modest size of today’s typical company headquarters, or data processing centers,” he said.

Final plans will not be drawn until companies commit to moving to the site, Mr. O’Neill said.

The huge oval road around the building, the long approach from Crawford’s Corner Road and even the weirdly shaped water tower at the entrance said by locals to resemble a transistor ח will most likely remain, though, Mr. O’Neill asserted. “We want to keep the country-road feel,” he said.

Diving enthusiastically through thick shrubbery, Mr. O’Neill made his way to a lovely pond set behind Bell Labs, surrounded by plantings and weeping willows and adjacent to a large terrace off the company cafeteria.

“This is such a special place for a company to offer its workers,” he said. “There is hardly anything like this available anywhere any more. We believe people will be beating down the doors to move their businesses here.”

Founded in 1992, Preferred owns numerous properties east of the Mississippi, worth a total of more than $1.5 billion, that were once central to communities but are now vacant or heading that way, according to Mr. O’Neill.

At the former American Standard plant in Hamilton, for instance, the company pledged to tastefully renovate the empty toilet factory and fill it with high-quality tenants, and it kept its promises, said the mayor, Glen Gilmore. Last month, with that job complete, Preferred sold the property, now called American Metro Center, to two other large real estate companies.

Mr. O’Neill said he had no idea whether his company would be the long-term owner in Holmdel. “Please!” he said, laughing and throwing up his hands. “We’ve got a lot of work to do here and now.”


Posted by Elvis on 09/27/07 •
Section Telecom Underclass • Section Dying America
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