Northern Telecom

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Northern Telecom

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  • Nortel
  • Nortel Networks
  • Northern Electric

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In 1882 the Bell Telephone Corporation created an internal department to handle the manufacture of telephones for its network. That aspect of Bell’s business grew quickly, leading to the incorporation of the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company in 1895 (based in Montreal, Quebec). Sometime thereafter the company changed its name to Northern Telecom Limited (NT).

On May 29th, 1961 a major NT manufacturing facility opened in Bramalea (located at 317 Orenda Road). This facility, which started with 20 employees, began to produce crossbar switching systems, manufactured under a license from AT&T. An influx of employees was required to meet demand and necessitated an expansion to 141 Clarence Street. By 1963 both of these locations were moved to a site at 8200 Dixie Street. By the 1970s the firm had developed new manufacturing plants in Turkey, Austria, Calgary, Texas, and North Carolina.

In 1971, Bell Canada and Northern Telecom combined their Research and Development organizations and formed Bell-Northern Research (BNR). After 1983 BNR was jointly owned 50-50 by Bell and NT. In 1996 NT assumed a majority share in BNR, and BNR was gradually folded into NT.

In 1979 NT launched DMS-100 a fully digital switch that could support up to 100,000 phone lines. This innovative technology propelled NT to global prominence. At its peak the NT workforce numbered over 96,000 people.

In 1998 Northern Telecom officially changed its name to Nortel Networks Corporation. After the dot-com bust (around 2000) the company began to witness a drop in demand for its products. The company began to shed employees, and eventually sought creditor protection (2009).


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  • EAC

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