The Lesson Steve Jobs Taught – How A Smaller Government Made The iPhone Possible


November 3, 2017

Allan Stevo

I wrote this a year back, inspired by a lecture delivered by Economist Tim Evans delivered in Bratislava a year earlier and my realization that the American phone monopoly so closely resembled the Slovak phone monopoly. Written originally in celebration of the life of an impressive entrepreneur – Steve Jobs – I’m posting it today just after the one year anniversary of his passing.

From the inglorious year 1913 until 1984 the United States had a government sanctioned telephone monopoly, in some form or another, with very heavy government involvement in the industry. During that time many homes in America even had the same telephone.  It was the Western Electric model 500 rotary phone.  The U.S. Government limited what telephone company could be used and the Bell System (AT&T) limited what telephones could be used.

That anti-competitive system created by government likely slowed development in residential telecommunications.  In 1984 those Model 500 rotary phones, very similar to the model that had first been developed in the late 1940s was still in use. It was said that telephone service was a “natural monopoly” so many people considered all of this an appropriate relationship between government and business.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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