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Bell Labs and innovation


Bell Labs brought us into the future, making science fiction science fact. This is all due to forcing people to interact.

ONE element of his approach was architectural. He personally helped design a building in Murray Hill, N.J., opened in 1941, where everyone would interact with one another. Some of the hallways in the building were designed to be so long that to look down their length was to see the end disappear at a vanishing point. Traveling the hall’s length without encountering a number of acquaintances, problems, diversions and ideas was almost impossible. A physicist on his way to lunch in the cafeteria was like a magnet rolling past iron filings.

This comes from John Gertner’s forthcoming book, The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

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