Malcolm Rorty is best known to historians of economics as the primary organizer and founder of the National Bureau of Economic Research. This article situates Rorty’s interest in economics against the backdrop of his early career in telephone engineering at American Telephone & Telegraph. I argue that distinct structural features of telephone engineering in general, and AT&T in particular, created overlaps between the practices of engineering and economics, and also opened space for Rorty to craft a broader vision for the “statistical control of business” through quantitatively informed management.

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