Au Revoir, Bell Labs

Bell Labs, the 81-year-old crown jewel of American technological innovation, is now part of a French company.

Alcatel and Lucent will operate under the new name of Alcatel-Lucent beginning Friday, trading under the ticker symbol “ALU.”

The merged company’s R&D unit will remain in New Jersey because of national security concerns and in deference to the research unit that was behind Hi-Fi, sound movies, fax machines, the transistor, cellular technology, the UNIX operating system, long-distance television transmission, solar cells and the laser, among other innovations. Eleven Bell labs scientists shared six Nobel prizes in physics.

The only thing Bell Labs couldn’t invent was a way out of the communications bubble that shaved 96% off Lucent’s market cap and forced it to join the wave of telecom companies merging to survive.

The new company will be headquartered in Paris and run by Lucent CEO Patricia Russo, who created something of a stir in France recently when she said she doesn’t plan to learn French. Vive la Bell Labs!

Nearly 1 billion Lucent shares changed hands Thursday, about 25 times the stock’s average daily volume.

Stocks were mixed on an unexpected decline in Midwestern manufacturing and lukewarm retail sales. National manufacturing data will be reported Friday morning.

Digital Insight surged on a buyout deal with Intuit .

VeriSign gained on a big .com win, while Microsoft’s big launch party was greeted with a yawn.

Netlist had a happy stock market debut.

Synopsis and Vimpel gained on their results.

TiVo fell on a warning.

The Nasdaq slipped half a point to 2431, the S&P 500 added 1 to 1400, and the Dow lost 5 to 12,221. Volume rose to 4 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.2 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 21-11 on the NYSE, and 16-14 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 46% on the NYSE, and 55% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 375-18 on the NYSE, and 145-41 on the Nasdaq.

News Around the Web