Halfway between Brooklyn and Montauk, a steel cupola propped up on wooden legs once looked out over the Long Island Sound and beyond the horizon. Built in the first years of the 20th century, Wardenclyffe Tower served as the centerpiece of a real-life mad scientist’s laboratory. Lever pulling, lightning bolts,…
Professor Brian Kernighan is computing heavyweight: he worked at Bell Labs, helped develop Unix and was one of two authors of the C programming language. Here, he talks with one of the UK’s foremost computer science professors, Professor David Brailsford. Time to geek out.
Whether you have fiber supplying Internet access to your home or not, you use optical systems to send and receive information every single day. This stunning video takes a look at the scientists and engineers that have enabled light to be used for human communication.
Just 45 miles outside New York City in Murray Hill, New Jersey sits Bell Labs: the birth place of lasers, transistors, cellphones and many other modern technologies. In this video, Professor Brian Kernighan remembers what it was like to work there.
We’ve been imagining a future of ubiquitous videophones for over a century. And today it’s considered no big deal that we’re able to make video calls with devices that we carry around in our pockets. But it took a while to get to that point. One reason? It was incredibly expensive.
A semi-rural New Jersey community about 45 miles outside of New York City seems like an unlikely home for the most important breakthroughs in telecommunications of the 20th century. But that’s exactly what happened at Bell Labs’ Holmdel facility in the 1960s.
Back in the good ‘ole days before the internet and Yo and Meerkat and Snapchat, we had one way to talk to people in faraway lands: the telephone. But a microphone and speaker aren’t much use if you’re hearing impaired.
In 1964, a pair of Bell Labs researchers in New Jersey pointed the world's largest radio telescope to the skies and unwittingly stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th Century: cosmic background radiation. We talked with the legendary physicist behind that breakthrough to find out more—and with the…
Inside Bell Labs almost 70 years ago, the invention that defined the 20th century was born: The transistor. On a recent sunny April day here in the present, Gizmodo had the rare opportunity to tour the historic and cutting edge facilities at Bell Labs—and get a preview of the inventions that could change this century.
Martin Luther King's 1956 tips for riding integrated buses, examining how design has helped an Alabama county, building instant cities in Accra and instant skyscrapers in Mumbai, and how two New York architects are tearing down the work of their former friends. It's all this week in our favorite Urban Reads.
Think Apple’s forthcoming Cupertino headquarters is the first corporate space ship to touch down in America? Not so: In 1962 the legendary R&D hub, Bell Labs, opened a glittering, 500-acre headquarters in semi-rural New Jersey. Today, it's the focus of an ambitious reuse scheme that could turn it into a commercial…
The videophone is one of those technologies that more or less snuck up on us. Promises that one day you'd not only be able to hear but see a person through your telephone are nearly as old as the telephone itself. The videophone spent nearly a century as every bit as much a "technology of the future" as the flying car…
Every camera you've ever used in your life has a lens that focuses incoming photons on to a light-sensitive surface. But in the future, cameras might not need lenses at all, and this Bell Labs prototype illustrates how this could be done for cheap.
Forty years ago today, senior Motorola engineer Marty Cooper made one very important phone call. From midtown Manhattan, Marty called Joel Engel, then the head of rival research department Bell Labs. When Joel picked up, Marty uttered something rather unexpected: "Joel, this is Marty. I'm calling you from a…
Why Xerox never chose to capitalize on the groundbreaking GUI developments made at its Palo Alto Research Center may never fully be understood. But other companies certainly saw the value, and in addition to Microsoft and Apple creating their own graphical computer interfaces, Bell Labs created the Blit in 1982…
In 1964, two researchers at Bell Telephone Laboratories were desperately attempting to pin down a source of interference that their antenna kept encountering. Little did they know that their antenna, the Holmdel Horn, was picking up the first observable evidence of the Big Bang—cosmic background radiation.
In 1937, the notion of beaming radio waves off distant objects was barely more than speculation, yet in just six years the genius minds of AT&T's Bell Labs honed the technology into a potent weapon for the Allies. The Idea Factory by Jon Gertner discusses the fascinating history of the storied think tank.
If I asked you about your phone, would you call it a cell phone or a mobile phone? Does it really matter what you say or is one term more appropriate than the other?
When Bell Laboratories wrapped up work on the transistor in 1948, they let 25 employees vote on the name. And for some reason, those stodgy bastards passed up options such as the crystal triode and the iotatron. Sad face.