Former AT&T CEO Robert Allen dies at 81

By:
Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

Robert Allen, former chairman and CEO of AT&T, has died at the age of 81

Robert Allen, former chairman and CEO of AT&T, has died at the age of 81. He developed what had become a wholesale and long-distance company into a mobile operator by taking over what is now AT&T Wireless.

Allen originally joined Indiana Bell but in 1978 was promoted to be vice president of business services at AT&T – the old AT&T, before it was split into regional operating companies in the early 1980s.

After a spell as CFO of AT&T he became president of the company in 1986, when it had become an independent long-distance and international operator, separate from the seven regional companies which were created in 1984. 

He was chairman and CEO from 1988, when he succeeded the late James Olson, until his retirement in 1998, by which time the company had annual revenue of $75 billion. He led AT&T to buy McCaw Cellular in 1994 for $12.6 billion, taking it into the mobile phone business, and spun off its manufacturing arm, Lucent, along with Bell Labs. 

Allen died on Saturday of the consequences of a stroke he suffered in January. A memorial service will be held on Friday 16 September in New Jersey