Other BT PLC sections
 

Events in telecommunications history

1951

A Telephone Act became law in August which enabled the Postmaster-General to set rental charges and so forth by statutory regulation. The passing of the Act was the first recognition in law of the telephone as a separate instrument from the telegraph. It was also the first Telephone Act passed by Parliament, 75 years after the invention of the telephone.

Until this time the Postmaster-General conducted the telephone service under powers conferred by a number of Telegraph Acts, because of the court decision in 1880 that a telephone was a form of telegraph under the telegraph acts then in force.

The objective of the legislation was to simplify the provision of a telephone service by replacing the existing system of individual contracts between customers and the Postmaster-General for providing apparatus and equipment with a system of Statutory Regulations.

Post Office engineers evolved an entirely new type of deep sea telephone cable. Known as the lightweight submarine cable it had a steel strand in the centre instead of the conventional layer of steel armour wires on the outside. This lightweight type of cable was both cheaper and easier to lay.

A television coaxial cable was brought into use between Birmingham and Manchester.

The Swiss made "Ipsophone", a record / answer machine, became the first such device to be available in the UK. As an "approved attachment" they were not supplied by the Post Office, but by the Ansafone Company. The Post Office did not market its own machine until 1958.

Back to events in telecommunications history