Bell Laboratories is a famous industrial laboratory headquartered in Murray Hill, New Jersey. It was founded in 1925 to serve AT&T's Bell System, the regulated monopoly that for most of a century was "the" telephone company to most Americans. During the years of the AT&T monopoly, Bell Laboratories, although privately financed, did a great deal of basic research and was one of the most famous scientific research establishment in the world.
Bell researchers won Nobel Prizes for demonstrating the wave nature of matter, inventing the transistor (which is the basis of all modern electronics), and making observations in radio astronomy that detected the radiation background from the origin of the universe (the Big Bang). It also made advances in computer science; in particular, it developed the UNIX operating system (the basis of modern-day LINUX).
Bell Laboratories continues to exist, as the research and development arm of Alcatel-Lucent, but with the breakup of the Bell companies, it is now more closely focussed on projects that can be seen as having a short-term business payoff.