Events in communications history

We take it for granted today that, by pressing a few buttons on a telephone, we can talk to family, friends or business associates - not only throughout the UK, but across the world too.

Similarly, at the flick of a switch, we've grown accustomed to seeing and hearing about world-changing events beamed or transmitted live into our living rooms by TV and radio.

This communications revolution has transformed the way we live and work and promises ever more spectacular developments in future years.

But today's technology, which helps make it possible, stems from basic work done in the last century by a few pioneering visionaries. Our own company history reflects many of these developments. Here we provide a detailed history of telecommunications dating back to 1605.

If you require further information on any aspect of BT's development or telecommunications generally, contact BT Archives.



You can use the ‘Select the year’ boxes below to find out what happened in specific years or use the 'search' box at the top of the screen to perform a text search and restrict the search to 'Just this Section'.


1605 - 1911 Private and public enterprise


1912 - 1968 Post Office control

1969 - 1980 Post Office (public corporation)

1981 - 1983   BT (public corporation)

1984 onwards - BT (private company)