A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

History: Bell Labs Moves In, April 1961

Fifty years ago this week, AT&T was interviewing for 600 new positions for their new Bell Laboratories Holmdel facility, which was currently under construction. The Independent interviewed H J Wallis, assistant vice president of Bell Labs, for a lengthy article published in its 13 April 1961 edition.

Bell Labs expected to have 2,400 employees in place by mid-summer 1962 and payroll to reach $19 million by the end of 1962. The Labs would eventually employ over 4,500 persons.

The job opportunities will fall into five major categories, Mr. Wallis said. The Laboratories will be seeking: Technical aides, with some college or technical institute training, to assist the professional people; draftsmen, with high school or technical institute training; men with shop mechanical skills, model shops; a variety of plant operations support positions, from cleaners, porters and chauffeurs up to power service operating personnel, and a variety of clerical and service personnel, including mail girls, typists, stenographers, stockroom clerks, and shipping and receiving clerks.

The article discussed why Bell Labs was being built in Holmdel.

Mr. Wallis pointed out that Holmdel was chosen as the site of a Bell operation of a substantial order because of a number of factors. One was that the Labs already had the 24 acres in ownership that were located suitably to house the building required. Another was that Holmdel is in the accessible range of Murray Hill, Whippany, and New York, key Bell research centers, so that there would be no big loss of working time by those who had to go from one installation to another. A third was that the site and its appurtenant locations in Holmdel had the elevation above sea level needed for freedom from ground obstruction or interference in research operations. And, on top of this, Mr. Wallis pointed out, Bell has "experience" with the Holmdel location and the Monmouth County community that no protracted period of orientation is necessary.

Bell Labs Holmdel (Wikimedia)
Bell Labs was a very successful part of the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) for many years. Countless local residents worked there, many as engineers and managers bringing home big paychecks. With the final breakup of the telephone monopoly in 1982, the Holmdel enterprise struggled to find its way, with the loss of a lot of high tech jobs in the ensuing years. Presently the Holmdel campus is at risk of becoming just another housing development. Preservationists are fighting it.


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