Putting Out Lines in All Directions

The Baby Bells are going into fields from computers to finance

In a sense, they were like infants, their prospects in life a mystery, their potential unknown. And so it was that when the Bell system was broken up two years ago, the seven regional phone companies[*] that resulted were soon dubbed the Baby Bells. Today the scattered siblings are not yet mature, but they are rapidly asserting their newfound independence.

For the regional companies, growing up means diversifying beyond their traditional business of providing local telephone service. The Baby Bells now own and operate computer retail stores selling both hardware and software. The companies manage financial-service and consulting firms. They own...

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