BT Archives


Events in Telecommunications History

1979

The International launch of the System X digital exchange was held at Telecom 79 in Geneva.

The STD system, commenced in 1958, was completed to allow direct dialling between all UK subscribers.

The first electronic, microprocessor-controlled payphone, the 'Blue Payphone' was introduced. A later version, Blue Payphone 2, was introduced in 1983

A digital telephone exchange was opened for trial in Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire, making Glenkindie subscribers the first to be connected directly to a digital exchange.

An evaluation model UXD 5 digital telephone exchange was opened for trial in Glenkindie, Aberdeenshire, making Glenkindie subscribers the first to be connected directly to a digital exchange. This was the first digital public exchange introduced into the UK network.

The introduction of UXD 5's into the network brought rural customers digital Network Services ahead of their counterparts living in more rural areas.

The UXD 5 rollout enabled the business to establish remote working practices in advance of NOU's, thus reducing the overall cost of ownership while providing customers with an improved quality of service.

UXD 5 was enhanced over the years, so that by 1998 it was able to carry an acceptable range of digital facilities, such as Call Waiting, 3 Way Calling; Call Diversion, Call Barring and fully itemised billing. During 1998 further digital services were added, including Calling Line Identity, Caller Return (1471) and single stage indirect access. ISDN 2e was also rolled out to UXD 5 exchanges during 1998.

Prestel, the world's first public viewdata service, was opened in London in September.

The Post Office launched a facsimile service, Fonofax.

A new international organisation, INMARSAT, was created this year to be responsible for the formation of a global maritime communications system. BT remained a major participant, and an aerial operating to the INMARSAT system came into service at Goonhilly during 1983. Originally set up to provide marine communications, it subsequently expanded into the delivery of data to mobile phones and laptop computers.

In April 1999, - by this time an 86-strong co-operative - INMARSAT became a privatised company. Henceforward, the organisation would be run by a 14-member board of directors, on which BT would be represented as the second largest investor. This was the first time that a privatisation involving an inter-governmental organisation had taken place. At the time of its privatisation, INMARSAT - short for International Marine Satellite - owned nine satellites and had 107,000 international subscribers. It had annual sales of $378 million in 1996, making a profit of more than $60 million, and was growing at more than 30 per cent a year.

Back to events in telecommunications history