This chapter examines the development of the US telephone system, ascertaining the extent to which technology and other factors - including politics - shaped its structure. It describes whether and to what effect the telephone network became or contained a technological system or systems which acquired the type of socioeconomic momentum that Thomas P. Hughes found in electrical power systems. The chapter outlines the strategies of the major actors - including the state - and discusses comparative analysis by specifying the dominant modes of telephone utilization. Technological considerations alone dictated a series of separate urban companies, each with a monopoly in its local market. After the mid-1890s, competition drastically altered the network’s pattern of growth, and in the years that followed, the local, state, and federal governments became active participants, shaping network development. The Bell System grew faster than the independents and continued to acquire telephones from and minority ownership positions in some of the independent companies.