December 31 - 1983 - The Breakup of the Bell System
For decades, telephone service was provided by AT&T, which was the descendant of Alexander Graham Bell's original company and was often known as the Bell Company or even "Ma Bell." They had a vertical monopoly, whereby they owned the equipment, the research labs, the long distance lines, and the regional exchanges. Many people thought this was a problem, but it was hard to change this. That all changed when the US Department of Justice leveled an anti-trust suit on AT&T. AT&T offered to be broken up themselves in the early 1980s, letting their regional operators spin off into individual companies. Remarkably, this did erase any semblance of a monopoly in phone service, just before the advent of cell phones.