The task to which the following pages are devoted is three-fold. First, I am to examine the development of the U.S. telephone system, ascertaining the extent to which technology and other factors - including politics - shaped its structure. Second, I am to determine whether and to what effect the telephone network became or contained a technological system or systems which acquired the type of socioeconomic momentum that Thomas P. Hughes found in electrical power systems. Third, I am to outline the strategies of the major actors - including the state - and facilitate comparative analysis by specifying the dominant modes of telephone utilization. Since the system in this case is extremely large (including one firm which was until recently the largest private business corporation in the world), and since the American telephone network and the Bell System have been the subject of many books and articles, I must skim like a hovercraft over the surface of an immense sea of information. Fortunately, I have found help in developing a suitable perspective. In the recent antitrust suit, U.S. v. AT&T, the defendant contended that its structure and behavior were for the most part determined by technological factors and by the company’s efforts to remain efficient and innovative within those technological parameters. Hence I can use the so-called “Gold Book” in which AT&T set forth its contentions and proof as a buoy marking one side of the interpretive channel I use. 1 I can employ Gerald Brock’s interesting book on The Telecommunications Industry to mark the opposite side of that channel, providing the black buoy, as it were. 2 Brock develops a variant on neo-classical economics and critiques the Bell System and the industry for deviating from a competitive 136model, for exploiting regulatory controls to protect their interests, and thus for being less efficient and innovative than they should have been. Brock gives little heed to technology as a causal force. In my own summary analysis, I steer clear between those two buoys.