• The telephone is conceived by Alexander Graham Bell in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. (1)
  • First Western Electric Company upright Multiple Magneto Telephone Switchboard installed in England at Liverpool. (2)
  • Introduction of dry core cable composed of copper wire insulated with dry air and a loose lapping of paper, the whole cable being enclosed in a lead sheath. (4)
  • Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company Limited is incorporated as a separate company under Dominion charter replacing manufacturing branch of the Bell Telephone Company of Canada. (1)
  • Telephone system installed at Aldershot to facilitate troop movements for the Diamond Jubilee. (5)
  • Western Electric buys North Woolwich factory. (5)
  • First central battery telephone switchboard installed at Bristol; the board was made in Chicago. (5)
  • Lee de Forest patents thermionic triode valve after work in the Western Electric Laboratories. (6)
  • First inductance loaded telephone cable laid in England. (5)
  • Northern Telecom Limited incorporated under the name of Northern Electric Company Limited, 56% owned by Bell Canada and 44% owned by Western Electric Company. (January 5th.) (1)
  • First multiple twin telephone cable in Europe laid between London and Birmingham. The 104 wire cable manufactured at North Woolwich. (5)
  • The Nash “Fish” hydrophone designed, manufactured and demonstrated in Weymouth Bay. The hydrophone enabled submarines to be detected and their range determined, it was fitted to over 200 trawlers and destroyers. (4)
  • Broadcasting starts in London. (2)
  • Western Electric supply the first broadcasting station at Birmingham to the BBC. (2)
  • Connaught House occupied. (November)
  • Western Electric buys New Southgate site. (2)
  • First transatlantic radio telephone – Celebratory plaque in Building 3, New Southgate. (14th. – 15th. January) (4)
  • The first telephone repeaters made in England installed at Fenny Stratford and Derby as part of the London to Manchester cable. (5)
  • The then largest Public Address System installed at the British Empire Exhibition. (2)
  • 30th. September – ITT takeover and name change to Standard Telephones and Cables Limited. (2)
  • Hendon site leased and occupied. (2)
  • Introduction and manufacture of the first water cooled valve in Europe.
  • Installation of the first ship to shore radio telephone equipment in the South Georgia Whaling Fleet.
  • Completion of the London to Glasgow Trunk Telephone cable and repeaters which was to form the backbone of the trunk telephone cable network of Great Britain.
  • First manufacture of the Gamewell Fire Alarm System, a closed circuit code signalling system. (2)
  • Manufacture and supply of the first high power broadcast transmitter in the Dominions at Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Two way trans-Atlantic radio telephone demonstrated between Rugby and New York using 200Kw single sideband long wave transmitter. (2)
  • Installation of first short wave telegraph link between Spain and Buenos Aires.
  • Supplied first short wave telephone transmitter for the Post Office trans-Atlantic telephone service, installed at Rugby.
  • First demonstration of public ship to shore telephony given from RMS Berengaria. (2)
  • 1930 Inaugurated first ship to shore Atlantic Radio Telephone Service by installing a short wave transmitter for the Post Office at Rugby. (2)
  • World’s first commercial microwave link system – England to France demonstrated. (In service 1934)
  • Installed the first 18 channel, 120 cycle voice frequency telegraph system between London and Dundee, and London-Glasgow -Belfast.
  • T. G. Spencer becomes Managing Director, Brimar valve company established at Foots Cray works of Kolster Brandes Limited.
  • Manufactured and installed the first coaxial cable in Great Britain for the GPO telephone network between London and Birmingham. (3)
  • A. H. Reeves invents pcm.
  • First installation of instrument landing equipment at three major London Airports, Croydon, Gatwick and Heston. (5)
  • Installation of Moscow-Khabarovsk carrier telephone system comprising the longest telephone line in the world (6000 miles).
  • First polythene submarine telephone cable produced by Submarine Cables Limited.
  • Design and installation in aircraft of air interception airborne radar.
  • STL opened on STC cable factory site, Progress Way, Enfield, 1st. December.
  • Coaxial cable television link with vestigial sideband equipment opened for service between Sutton Coldfield and Holme Moss.
  • Two way submerged repeaters manufactured for cable system between the Netherlands and Denmark.
  • Manufactured and installed the first broadband microwave radio relay system using travelling wave amplification for television transmission between Holme Moss and Kirk O’Shotts. This was the longest link in the British television transmission network.
  • World’s largest direct radio-telephone link inaugurated between Great Britain and New Zealand.
  • First carrier cable to be installed in India to provide trunk telephone circuits between Bombay and Thana.
  • First rigid submarine repeaters produced for the UK-Norway cable.
  • De Havilland Comet III fitted with STC radio equipment achieves first round the world flight.
  • First flight by BOAC of airborne radio system for communicating meteorological and navigational reports to aircraft pilots.
  • Introduction of STC’s CADF radio direction finding system.
  • First microwave radio link in Great Britain to carry trunk telephone circuits.
  • First trans-Atlantic submarine telephone system, TAT1, laid. STC produced 99% of oceanic cable and complete systems in section between Newfoundland and the Canadian mainland. Repeaters for this section were designed jointly with the Post Office.
  • Madrid 24 channel pcm system.
  • STL move to Harlow. (7)
  • First international broadband microwave link introduced between Folkestone and Loos.
  • First electronic computer system in the world for aircraft loading control supplied by STC for Kastrup Airport, Copenhagen.
  • First demonstration in the UK of a data transmission system using ordinary telephone lines.
  • Largest British made submarine cable system, CANTAT1, inaugurated by HM The Queen. This system, laid between the UK and Canada, was completely manufactured and supplied by STC and used, for the first time, light weight deep water cable and single rigid repeaters to amplify both directions of transmission.
  • USA-Bermuda telephone link, with cable, repeaters and terminal equipment by STC, provided control circuits for Project Mercury, the USA Man into Space.
  • STC radio transmitter at GPO Goonhilly Down station supplied for service with USA Relay satellite.
  • First public telex message exchange between USA and UK via Telstar satellite. (8)
  • Northern Telecom Limited becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Bell Canada when Bell purchased Western Electric’s 44% interest. (1)
  • First semi-conductor laser to be produced by private industry in Europe introduced by STL. (9)
  • First direct telephone cable link between Europe and USA, TAT3, using cable produced by STC. (9)
  • STC produced the world’s first transistorised submarine repeater. ( )
  • Kao and Hockham show feasibility of optical fibres.
  • PO places first orders for pcm equipment.
  • World’s first 480 circuit submarine cable system installed between Norway and Denmark.
  • SAT1, the world’s first 360 circuit trans-oceanic submarine cable system, between Cape Town and Lisbon (6000 miles) inaugurated. (February) (10)
    STC wins Queen’s Award for Export Achievement. (10)
  • STC introduce Starphone uhf pocket radio telephone. (11)
  • STC introduce 600ADX medium price message switch. (11)
  • STC win Queen’s Award for Technical Achievement for coaxial cable transmission system handling up to 2700 simultaneous telephone conversations. (11)
  • World’s first 640 circuit submarine cable system installes between UK and Portugal.
  • STC acquires Submarine Cables Limited with plants at Greenwich and Erith. Combines with existing submarine cable and repeater divisions at Southampton and North Woolwich STC becomes biggest manufacturer of such systems in the world. (12)
  • April – fifth cable Europe / USA opened for traffic. (12)
  • Two orders for latest 1840 circuit submarine cables. (12)
  • May – Company’s mobile radio telephone equipment, the STAR range wins Council of Industrial Design Award. (12)
  • First “transit” telephone exchange manufactured by STC using “Pentaconta” (crossbar) switching system brought into service for the PO in Birmingham. (12)
  • Private exchange PABX 4 supplied to a number of important users. (12)
  • STL announces experimental models of a solid state lamp display characters 4 x 3 mm , advances towards fibre optic transmission line and an extremely small room temperature laser. (12)
  • Development of a 32 channel pcm system. (12)
  • Data Equipment and Systems Division supplies remote control and indication system for airfield ground lighting at Heathrow for BAA. (12)
  • June – First 18 TXE 4 electronic telephone exchanges ordered by PO.(13)
  • “Pentomat 1000” crossbar PABX installed for Rank Hovis McDougall. (13)
  • First 12 MHz coaxial cable system for PO installed between Bedford and Cambridge. (13)
  • Field trial of advanced telephone exchange using computer controlled digital switching techniques at Moorgate. In service mid 1971. Connected by 24 channel pcm systems to three other city exchanges. (13)
  • Sizeable orders for 6400 ADX and smaller type 600 ADX automatic data exchange (message switching) systems. (Gained Design Council Award in 1972). (13)
  • Production for PO of Modem Datel No.7. (13)
  • “More Life in ITT – KB Colour” TV. (13)
  • New high temperature thermistor probe – up to 1000 degrees C. (13)
  • The first SP-1 electronic switching system is put into service at Aylmer, Quebec. (1)
  • Coaxial cable with 28 Type 174 cores supplied to PO; STC the only company in the world able to do this. (14)
  • New VDU Type 3210. (14)
  • Room temperature solid state injection laser and low attenuation glass fibre announced. (14)
  • Factory at South Benfleet for TXE 4. Part of Basildon also making TXE 4. Treforest, Glamorgan all TXE 2 manufacture. (15)
  • STC and GEC sign agreement to collaborate in design and development of telephone switching systems – looks to “System X”. (15)
  • Contract for design and supply of 120 Mbit/s co-ax system for operation in 1975. (15)
  • First pcm regenerators with automatic equalisation fo PO. (15)
  • First trans-Atlantic 1840 circuit submarine cable system installed between UK and Canada (CANTAT II).
  • NG1 – new generation submarine cable system ordered by Italian P&T – 3600 to over 5000 circuits offers vast improvement over 1840. (16)
  • Installation by STC’s Transmission Division of 120 Mbit/s digital line sytem between Guildford and Portsmouth, first in Europe to operate at over 100 Mbit/s. (16)
  • Opening of the first international coaxial line system for 2700 circuits for Austria. (16)
  • TXE 4 manufacture now at Basildon, Benfleet, Chaseside, Monkstown, Treforest and New Southgate. (16)
  • Takeover of Exacta Circuits at Selkirk for TXE 4. (16)
  • ITT Electronic Services UK’s largest franchised distributors, they started in 1964 and now have one eighth of the market. (16)
  • Hastings and Kearsley – ITT Consumer Products – TV etc. (16)
  • Components Group mica capacitor factory at Bovey Tracey Old Mill, Devon. (16)
  • Plans to phase out Larne (NI) and North Woolwich. (17)
  • PENCAN 3, Canary Islands to Spain contract, 750 nautical miles, 45 MHz bandwidth capacity 5520 telephone circuits. (17)
  • Newport supplies equipment for monitoring performance of submarine systems, Basildon supplies multiplex equipment and installation, test etc. (17)
  • Award of BT contract for improved TXE 4A. (17)
  • Agreement with Frederick Electronics to manufacture and market ELTEX automatic telex exchange. (17)
  • First 30 channel pcm systems to enter public service – London to Heathrow – over two pairs of conductors. (17)
  • ITT Components Group and STL gain Ptarmigan (tactical trunk communication system) equipment contract. (17)
  • Pilot facility for the production of optical cable set up. (17)
  • Low noise high frequency radio telephone system, LINCOMPEX introduced. (17)
  • Hydrospace Division formed (1st. January 1976) (17)
  • Agreement for IMRC to act as exclusive agents for sales and servicing of shipboard satellite COMSAT equipment. COMSAT a major participant in MARISAT. (17)
  • First civil application of a fibre optic data link in the world, Dorset Police. (17)
  • Britain’s largest supplier of high quality reed relays. (17)
  • The first SL-1 digital business communications (PABX) system is cut into service in Ottawa, Ontario. (1)
  • Entry into public service of the first of the new generation of TXE 4 electronic exchanges, Rectory Exchange, Sutton Coldfield. (18)
  • SABEX, a new cordless PABX. (18)
  • Larne closed, East Kilbride closure announced. (18)
  • Plans for 1977 demo of 140 Mbit/s optical fibre transmission system. (18)
  • Feasibility study of 400 – 600 Mbit/s transmission system. (18)
  • Optical communications unit established at Harlow. (18)
  • Prototype flat panel lcd demonstrated. ( )
  • IMRC first UK company to provide equipment for MARISAT. (18)
  • STL perfects use of an RF gas plasma to etch metal conductor patterns on semiconductor substrates. (18)
  • First complete year for ITT Creed Limited as a member of the STC Group. Volume production of the ITT 2300 teleprinter. (18)
  • Acquisition of Erie Electronics Limited with factories at Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Wrexham. (Existing capacitor division at Paignton.) (18)
  • ITT Terryphone for hazardous environments. (18)
  • Europe’s first commercial factory working solely on the design, manufacture and marketing of optical communication systems set up in Harlow. (18)
  • Sir Thomas Spencer dies 29th. February, joined the Company in 1907. (18)
  • First working prototype of an electronic telephone is unveiled at the Digital World conference held at Walt Disney World, Florida. (1)
  • Name of Northern Electric Company Limited changed to Northern Telecom Limited. ( )
  • Production of first TXE 4A, Belgrave, Leicester underway. (19)
  • Company made responsible for System X message transmission systems and local administration centres. (19)
  • Viewdata business terminal introduced. (19)
  • Complete closure of East Kilbride. (19)
  • Factories in NI at Monkstown and Enniskillen. (19)
  • Successful inauguration of 140 Mbit/s optical fibre field demonstration in June, 9Km. route, Stevenage to Hitchin. (19)
  • Development models of Ptarmigan equipments delivered. (19)
  • Coaxial line system for 1200 telephones plus one 625 line colour TV link or 2700 telephones introduced. (19)
  • North Woolwich closed. (19)
  • Optical fibre cable manufacturing unit established at Newport. (19)
  • ITT Semiconductors 4K dynamic RAM in full production. (19)
  • Oil in water monitor introduced. (19)
  • World’s first 3600 circuit submarine cable system produced and installed between Rome and Palermo. First TV trials over a submarine system carried out on this cable. ( )
  • The first field test of DMS-1 digital subscriber carrier system is conducted at Valleyfield, Quebec. (1)
  • 1977 The first DMS-10 digital local telephone switch is shipped to the North Florida Telephone Company central office at Fort White, Florida. (1)
  • Dri-fill communications cable is introduced to the telecommunications market. (1)
  • Development contract for rugged optical fibre communication system for the MoD. (20)
  • Hitchin to Stevenage optical fibre link now carrying telephone traffic. (20)
  • MoD contract to develop UK Navstar receivers. (20)
  • LSI chip developed for fully digital subset (codec etc.). (20)
  • First digital coaxial line systems operating at 120 Mbit/s for PO and introduction of new 140Mbit/s system. (21)
  • ITT 6100 ADX introduced. (21)
  • Pocket Pager and Currency Exchange Transaction Terminal introduced to the market. (21)
  • STC’s final electromechanical Strowger exchange installed at Baynard House, London. (22)
  • Successful development and field trial of new 30 circuit digital multiplex and signalling between two exchanges in London. (22)
  • First order for STC 140 Mbit/s (1920) circuits on one coax) for BT. (22)
  • BT order 8 Mbit/s and 140 Mbit/s optical fibre transmission systems. (22)
  • Installation of first undersea optical cable for trial in Loch Fyne. (22)
  • Launch of STC Electronic Security Systems business. (22)
  • BT’s first optical communications link for public commercial traffic, Croydon – Vauxhall – City of London. (23)
  • Launch of first in a series of fully electronic teleprinters incorporating visual display screen. (23)
  • Northern Telecom introduces the prototype of a communications telephone with a video screen to display messages and information. Called Displayphone the prototype is an advanced “intelligent” telephone set which permits both voice and data communications to be handled in one desk top unit. (1)
  • Northern Telecom receives the International Industrial Award of the Institute International de Promotion et de Prestige of Geneva, Switzerland for excellence in telecommunications digital technology and products, and penetration of markets outside Canada. (1)
  • I. Vance leads team which designs first professional single chip. VHF radio receiver – pager – CT – digital cordless telephony.
  • STC withdraws from System X. (24)
  • Electronic telephone, the BT “Viscount” , selected to replace dial phones. (24)
  • STL contribute to first public transmission of TV programmes over optical fibres in Milton Keynes. (24)
  • 1982 First working demonstration to the public of NAVSTAR equipment. (24)
  • Installations of STL’s Radio Lighthouse. (24)
  • STC buys IAL (April). (25)
  • World’s first 140 Mbit/s single mode system, 28 Km. Luton to Milton Keynes, accepted (October), and opened January 1984. (25)
  • STC signs contract to supply nationwide computerised directory enquiry system for BT. (25)
  • STC purchases ICL (September). (26)
  • Launch of “One per Desk”. (26)
  • Digital signal processor chip most complex semiconductor device ever designed and produced by a British company (November). (26)
  • STL reports low current lasers. (26)
  • First tantalum chip capacitor. (26)
  • First undersea optical communication system in commercial service (Portsmouth to Ryde). (26)
  • First international optical submarine system (12000 circuits, UK to Belgium) in development. (26)
  • IC to enable speech and data to be transmitted simultaneously over subscriber wires at 144 Kbit/s. announced. (26)
  • The New England Telephone Company places into service a 59,000-line and 9,000-trunk DMS-100 in Newton, Massachusetts. It is the largest fully digital switching system in North America. (1)
  • 565 Mbit/s optical transmission system announced. (27)
  • Sir Kenneth Corfield retires (2nd. August). (27)
  • Northern Telecom’s first Meridian DV-1 data voice system is shipped to Dresser Manufacturing of Bradford, Pennsylvania. (1)
  • IAL sold to BT (July). (28)
  • Major part of City of London fibre optic network (FAST) contracted. (28)
  • UK to Belgium optical link established. (28)
  • Contract for PTAT 1 – first transoceanic optical system, USA to UK and spur to Bermuda. (28)
  • STC auto – triangulation system ordered for UK Search and Rescue. (28)
  • Northern Telecom installs its five millionth SL-1 line at the Courtyard by Marriott motel chain. (1)
  • Northern Telecom announces the completion of the first ISDN calls among the Arizona state government, US National Bank, Honeywell and Mountain Bell. (1)
  • STL becomes part of STC Technology (25th. November). ( )
  • ITT bow out of STC.
  • NT purchases 24% of STC. (29)
  • BT’s City Fibre Network (CFN 1) complete at end of year. (29)
  • BT contract to develop next generation cordless telephony products (CT2). (29)
  • 1987 Northern Telecom announces it is the first telecommunications supplier to deliver Signaling System 7 to a Bell operating company. (1)
  • Northern Telecom and Pacific Bell announce the first test of the ISDN primary rate access involving a commercial application. (1)
    • BT appoints STC as strategic supplier of flexible access transmission systems (FAS). (30)

5 millionth “Viscount” delivered to BT. (30)

    • New digitally implemented professional HF radio receiver launched. (30)

Contract for longest link in world without underwater amplifiers (155 Km. UK to the Netherlands). (30)

  • The first residential telephone call over optical fibre is placed at Heathrow, Florida. The call is made over a Northern Telecom fibre access system. (1)
  • Northern Telecom and GTE South announce the first domestic ISDN application between a central office and a PABX at Glaxo Inc., a pharmaceutical concern in North Carolina. (1)
  • Contract with BSB for advanced design of 38 cm. square antenna for domestic satellite TV reception (“squarial”). (31)
  • PTAT 1 complete, 17000 voice circuits, 7600 Km. length. (31)
  • UK to the Netherlands link handed over. (31)
  • Order for TAT 9 using 1.5 micron fibre optic systems. (31)
  • STL celebrates 30 years in Harlow. (31)
  • World’s most sensitive optoelectronic monolithic circuit receiver developed. (31)
  • Fujitsu purchase 80% of ICL (November). (32)
  • Northern Telecom and US West announce the completion of the first successful market trial of Caller Line Identification. (1)
  • Merger of STC plc into Northern Telecom is completed April. (1)
  • 2.5 Gbit/s integrated circuits, lasers and regenerators.
    5 Gbit/s 6300 Km (transatlantic) sub-system of new generation erbium doped optical fibre amplifiers demonstrated.
  • Northern Telecom launches VISIT, the first in a family of personal multimedia communications products. (1)
  • Northern Telecom announces 100 Mbit/s capability over unshielded twisted pair wiring (regular telephone wires). (1)
  • Northern Telecom and Philips install SDH transmission systems at Deutsche Bundespost Telekom. (1)
  • Northern Telecom announces the industry’s first customer use of a National ISDN 1 compatible switching system. (1)
  • President Bush announces that Northern Telecom has won a presidential award for the corporation’s CFC elimination initiative. (1)
  • Northern Telecom introduces Companion, a new wireless communication system. (1)
  • Northern Telecom installs worlds largest international gateway for British Telecom (Madley). (1)
  • World’s first 40 Gbit/s over 560 Km demonstrated in Lab.



(1) Northern Telecom Chronology of Significant Events.
(2) Standard Telephones and Cables Limited and its Factories. (STC 1930)
(3) Achievement, a Short Record of Six Years Progress. (STC 1938)
(4) The Fortieth Milestone (Western Electric Co. Ltd. 1923)
(5) The Story of STC (STC 1958)
(6) Thermionic Valves 1904 – 1954 (IEE London 1955)
(7) Electrical Communication Volume 40 No.1 (ITT)
(8) Standard News Volume 31 (STC)
(9) Standard News Volume 32 (STC)
(10) STC Annual Report 1968
(11) STC Annual Report 1969
(12) STC Annual Report 1970
(13) STC Annual Report 1971
(14) STC Annual Report 1972
(15) STC Annual Report 1973
(16) STC Annual Report 1974
(17) STC Annual Report 1975
(18) STC Annual Report 1976
(19) STC Annual Report 1977
(20) STC Annual Report 1978
(21) STC Annual Report 1979
(22) STC Annual Report 1980
(23) STC Annual Report 1981
(24) STC Annual Report 1982
(25) STC Annual Report 1983
(26) STC Annual Report 1984
(27) STC Annual Report 1985
(28) STC Annual Report 1986
(29) STC Annual Report 1987
(30) STC Annual Report 1988
(31) STC Annual Report 1989
(32) STC Annual Report 1990

BOAC British Overseas Airways Corporation
CADF Commutated Aerial Direction Finder
ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network
PABX Private Automatic Branch Exchange
pcm Pulse Code Modulation
SDH Synchronous Digital Hierarchy
STC Standard Telephones and Cables Limited (later plc)
STL Standard Telecommunications Laboratories Limited
IMRC International Marine Radio Company

Compiled by members of the QCC in ’95

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