Operator. May I help you?: Bell Canada's 125 Years
Claire Poitras, INRS-Urbanisation, Culture et Société
Can you imagine a day without phones or Internet access- Telecommunications technologies, powerful tools of socialization, are everywhere in our society. We've come a long way since the invention of the telephone in 1874. Today, 130 years later, the system carries more than just voices and provides access to a whole array of services, including high-tech multimedia.
The telephone has been part of Canadian life since 1877, but until the 1920s, it was the preserve of businessmen and wealthy households. The phone became an everyday item when the expanded system enabled it to be used more widely. Founded on April 29, 1880, the Bell Telephone Company of Canada has played a fundamental role in the development of the country's telephone industry. With more than 13 million telephone lines and over 40,000 employees in 2003, it is one of the cornerstones of the Canadian economy. In 125 years, Bell Canada has become the biggest telecommunications company in Canada. It history is tied to that of the country and of a technology that shrinks distances, accelerates the pace of economic exchanges, keeps friends and families in touch and brings remote areas into contact with the outside world.
The history of the telephone is inextricably bound up with that of the associated trades. Since the late 19th century, a small army of engineers, technicians, linemen, operators and office employees has been working to provide telecommunications services. Over the decades, professional practices have gradually changed to keep up with technological innovations, which are now taking place at breathtaking speed. These changes are revolutionizing the way we communicate: just think of automatic and digital switching, wireless communications, the Internet and satellite TV. What does the future hold in store- With the advent of voice over IP, the technological revolution is far from over. Voice and a complete range of communications services that will simplify people's lives will be offered over the Internet, opening up new possibilities for devices that focus on the individual.