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U.S. research and development company (founded 1925) that develops telecommunications equipment and carries out defense-related research. Formerly part of AT&T, it now belongs to Lucent Technologies, Inc., which spun off from AT&T in 1996. Bell Labs has produced thousands of inventions, including the first synchronous-sound motion-picture system, the electrical-relay digital computer, the laser, the solar cell, UNIX, and the C and C++ programming languages. Several Bell researchers have won Nobel Prizes: Clinton Davisson, for demonstrating the wave nature of matter; John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William B. Shockley, for inventing the transistor; and Arno Penzias and Robert W. Wilson, for discovering cosmic microwave background radiation. It operates today in some 20 countries.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Bell Laboratories, visit Britannica.com.
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