Harry Bates Thayer
He was educated at Northfield High School in Northfield, Vermont. He then attended Norwich University (the Military College of Vermont) for 2 years before attending Dartmouth College, from which he graduated in 1879. After six months working in the Station Agent's office at the Bellows Falls VT railway station, he became a shipping clerk at $10 per week at Western Electric Company. He was the International department manager in 1897. He traveled to Japan in 1896 and subsequently initiated Western Electric's participation in the forming of Nippon Electric Company, Ltd., where his assistant, Walter Tenney Carleton became a founding director. Thayer soon became the general manager in New York City and later vice-president. In 1909 he became president of Western Electric Company and vice-president at AT&T, American Telephone & Telegraph. He left Western Electric Company in June 1919 to succeed his close friend Theodore Vail as president of AT&T. In 1920 the telephone system was de-nationalized by the Willis-Graham Act, freeing AT&T to acquire independent telephone companies. Under Thayer, AT&T flourished as a regulated monopoly and spread into radio broadcasting. In 1925 the research activities of AT&T and Western Electric were consolidated into Bell Labs. In 1925 Thayer resigned the presidency and became board chairman at AT&T, continuing in that role until he resigned in 1928.
In April 25, 1887 Thayer married Carrie M. Ransom of Ransomville, NY. They had three children together and after living on Staten Island and then Kingsbridge, settled in New Canaan, CT in 1903. Carrie Thayer died in 1916. Harry Thayer died in New Canaan, 3 September 1936.
From 1937 until 2011 the primary dining facility at Dartmouth College was named Thayer Hall in honor of his service to the College, which included serving on the Board of Trustees.
- H.B. Thayer Dead; Ex-Head of AT&T, New York Times obituary, 4 September 1936
- Ward, Robert C. Jr., The Chaos of Covergence: A Study of the Process of Decay, Change, and Transformation within the Telephone Policy Subsystem of the United States, chapter 7
- AT&T Corporation - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on AT&T Corporation
- Thayer, Harry Bates (June 1933). Autobiography. privately held: Not published.
- Dartmouth Class of 1953 gift will revitalize dining and social space