An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica has a piece looking at the history of corporate R&D, in response to an article on the BusinessWeek site essentially calling the telecommunication giants aging fossils of communication. The Ars piece looks as several innovations to come out of the AT&T Labs over the years, as well as the era of innovation brought on by the Cold War."
From the article: "The Cold War, with its 'Pentagon socialism', combined with large corporate monopolies that were expected to provide lifetime employment and pensions, made for something of a golden age for American technological innovation. This is the era that brought us the transistor and the predecessor to the Internet, an era where all the seeds of today's 'information economy' were sown and carefully cultivated at great private and public expense. The great labs of this era--Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, and IBM's labs--were places with massive budgets, where the world's top scientists were invited to pursue "blue sky" research into areas with no immediately apparent commercial applications. The facilities were state-of-the-art, and there was no pressure from management or shareholders to do anything but science for science's sake."