Judge Harold Green

If you’re in need of some great cocktail party banter—in the event a conversation heads down the telecommunications or corporate monopoly path—this is a great name to throw out there.

In 1978, Judge Harold Green of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (D.C.)—on his first day on the bench, mind you—began presiding over an antitrust case the FCC filed against AT&T 4 years earlier. They felt AT&T used its dominant position to squash competition and prevent consumers from having more than one telecommunications choice. In addition, the FCC believed that AT&T was using “monopoly” money—no, not the miniature, colored money from the game Monopoly—earned from one of its subsidiaries to fund the expansion of their network.

Four years later, in 1982, a Judge Green-approved agreement was reached, which modified a 1956 consent decree that limited AT&T to control no more than 85% of the country’s long distance facilities (prior to that, they owned 98%). The antitrust lawsuit against AT&T began in 1949, just 4 years after the end of World War II. Yes, it took 33 years to settle the case.

This modified consent decree required AT&T to divest its local exchange facilities into Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs). The divestiture, which was completed in 1984, resulted in 7 RBOCs that spanned the nation—Bell Atlantic, SBC Communications, Pacific Telesis, U.S. West, Ameritech, BellSouth, and NYNEX.