23 years after the invention of the electric telegraph by Morse (1836), and 5 years after the first submarine cables had been submerged in the Mediterranean Sea (1854), in March 1859, the law establishing the Telegraph Service, which until then was under the Ministry of Interior, was passed.
The submarine cable connecting Syros to Piraeus was submerged. Athens was connected to the international telegraph network through Chios-Smyrna and started its telegraphic communication with abroad. The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexandros Rizos Ragkavis, considered the work to be “the first big industry business”.
The installation of overhead telegraph lines connecting Athens to Piraeus and Patras to Aigion was launched.
During the first three months of Telegraph operations, 4,072 telegrams were sent.
Telegraphy constituted the first application of electricity in Greece.
There was a pressing need for telegraphy in order for the Greek trade to function properly due to its reselling and transit nature. The Minister of Interior, K. Proveleggios, stated in front of the National Assembly that “The cunning invention of the telegraphic correspondence [abolishes] every local boundary and a resident of Athens can easily correspond with a resident of London […] Sailing maritime will benefit the most from the enhancement of telegraphic correspondence as it can be informed of every fare and will be able to arrive timely and beneficially wherever there is a need for good transport services”.
It is telling that the first telegrams of this period (1859-1865) retained at OTE Telecommunications Museum were of commercial or bank-related nature.
The first telegraph offices were established in 1859 in Athens, Piraeus, Syros, Aigio and Patras while in 1861 Korinthos was equipped with its own telegraph office. By 1862, there were overall 13 Greek cities with telegraph offices and 899 km of telegraph lines.
At a time when road network was non-existent and transport was carried out under difficult circumstances, mainly via maritime routes, the equipment of a city with a telegraph line was considered a major event and the grand opening of every city’s telegraph office was taking on celebratory proportions.
After all external telecommunications were interrupted (1861), as a result of damaged submarine cables, the Greek governments decided to grant the privilege of maintenance and operation of telegraph lines to private companies. In 1866, the Greek state granted the Ralli-Binney company the exclusive right to install, at its own expense, submarine telegraph lines that united the coastal regions of Greece with each other and with other countries (Egypt, Italy, Austria).
In 1872, Ralli-Binney granted said right to the English company Levant Submarine Telegraph Company. The “Eastern” company was founded in London, in 1856, and the following year had already undertaken the telegraphic connection between Constantinople and Crete, Palestine and Egypt.
After the expansion of submarine lines, Greece was connected to the Mediterranean telegraph network. A few years earlier, in 1869, the Suez Canal was officially opened and Mediterranean had become once more, after centuries, financially and geopolitically important since it was connected to every commercial distributor in Asia.
Eastern Telegraph Company undertook to submerge new submarine cables which would connect most of the Greek coastal cities and islands to other countries.
This company significantly improved telegraph communications and connected with approximately 1000 mile submarine cables the Greek Archipelago to Piraeus. Twelve lines were constructed between Zante, Lefkada, Ithaka, Corfu and Spetses, Hydra, Syros, Tinos, Andros, Euboea for domestic communication, and three lines for external communication between Malta-Zante, Patras-Siros and Piraeus-Siros-Chios-Crete-Alexandria.
The company’s contract was supposed to expire in 1916 but was extended until 1923 due to World War I.
Eastern Telegraph was operating in tandem with Greek Telegraph Offices and was later (1937) merged with Cable and Wireless Limited company. Finally, it was taken over by the Greek State in 1956.
By the law of 22nd June 1882, the Faculty of Telegraphy was established as part of the National Technical University of Athens. The duration of studies was at least one year and the students, who had to be in possession of a diploma of secondary education, attended courses of theory and practice of telegraphy, physics, chemistry, French and calligraphy.
The establishment of the faculty was the result of a reforming and modernising programme introduced by the Charilaos Trikoupis-led government, integrated in the general framework of transformation which characterised the Greek prime minister’s policy (1882-1895).
During the governance of Charilaos Trikoupis, a Belgian mission undertook the reorganisation of the telegraph and postal service. The founding of TT had a positive effect on the dissemination of telegraphy. Three years later, there were already 177 operational telegraph centres across Greece, which had increased in size owing to the annexation of Thessaly and Arta in 1881.
Between the years 1883 and 1887, telegrams increased by 40%.
*The picture illustrates an aspect of the TTT building, the neoclassical Melas mansion located in modern Kotzia Square.
That was a very important year for Greece. The revival of the Olympic Games in their birthplace of Athens came in 1896. Gold medalist Spiros Louis would dedicate his victory to national benefactor Georgios Averof by a telegram: “I won the Marathon. The glory of this victory is a tribute to you”.
That was an important year for the evolution of telegraphy; Marconi used electromagnetic waves for the transmission of messages and established the wireless communication.
In Greece, wireless telegraphy was used for the first time by the Navy in 1910.
After the appointment of Eleftherios Venizelos as prime minister, Greece was shaped by necessary political and administrative reforms such as the establishment of the Ministry of Transport (later Ministry of Transport and Communication). The removal of TTT from the Ministry of Interior and its placement under the control of a separate Ministry was indicative of the increasing importance of telecommunications for the Greek state and society.
The Greek state undertook the management of the Greek Railways telegraph service, which had been opened by Batignolles in the years 1902-1903, and expanded the telegraph network to all railways, as, after the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), Greece’s size had doubled.
The largest telegraphic traffic in Greece was recorded. The telegrams exchanged reached 5,483,000, namely approximately one telegram per capita.
The events that occurred during 1924-1935, i.e. the demographic explosion (1.5 million refugees from Asia Minor were added to the post-Balkan wars doubled population), the financial growth and social modernisation were accompanied by progress in the field of telegraphy.
In 1922, Baudot's multiple system was installed on the Athens-Thessaloniki line and another 8 intercity routes facing the most traffic, with a transmission data rate of up to 360 letters per minute. The system used a keyboard with five keys in line with a person's five fingers, and is considered the precursor of the teleprinter. The most common keyboard, so far, had had two keys.
A teleprinter was an electromechanical typewriter that could be used to send and receive typed messages from point to point via an electric system. It was inaugurated in 1910 by the American Postal -Telegraph company for the line Boston-New York city. In Europe, its use was generalised in the 1920s.
The handling of teleprinters required special training and therefore in 1937, the Greek Government established training departments in various telegraph offices in order to train telegraph operators in the Baudot and Teletype systems.
The installation of the teleprinter increased the telegraphic correspondence by 5% each year.
The grand opening of the new service was held at the Central Telegraph Office of Athens, on 1st September 1949, with the presence of the Ministers of TTT, the press and high standing executives of the Cable and Wireless company, which was responsible for the installation and operation of the telephoto machine.
The Telephotography Service of OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation founded in 10th November 1949) operated until the late 1990s.
The picture illustrates a system for transmitting reportorial photos over long distances.
Subscribers connected to the network of OTE and were able to conduct direct telegraphic correspondence with the domestic users of Telex, the users of Telex abroad or their home telegraph office.
The Telex service (short for Teleprinter exchange), which was a system of teleprinters connected to each other, was launched in Germany in 1933 and flourished in Europe after 1945. It is considered the precursor of the fax, the email and texting.
On the 1st of June, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation took over the exploitation of external telegraphic correspondence, which was theretofore within the domain of Cable & Wireless.
The government of Charilaou Trikoupi is passing the law "on telephone transport", through which the state monopoly is secured. This law decided for the first time the installation of landlines in Athens.
The Postal and Telegraph Directorate (PT) assumes responsibility of Telephone Services, creating the Postal, Telegraph and Telephony Directorate (PTT) of the Internal Affairs Ministry. The first Telephone Exchange in Greece is installed, in Athens, with the number of subscribers reaching 60.
* The photo shows a view of the TTT building, in the neoclassical Mela mansion, located in today's Kotzia square.
Law 3277 of April 8 establishes the body of answering machines.
Law 276 of 1914 establishes the Ministry of Communications, where the Telephony, Post and Telegraph Service (TTT) is transferred as the General Directorate.
The landline telephone service has 5,267 mobile phones across the country. Long-distance calls reach 100,000.
The Ministry of Telephony, Posts and Telegraphs (TTT) is established, which is abolished in 1923 and its services are returned to the Ministry of Communications.
The contract with Siemens is ratified and the telephony operates as a Telephone Communications Societe Anonyme (AETE) until the establishment of OTE. AETE will undertake the automatic telephony inside the country, under the supervision of the state service of Telephony, Posts and Telegraphs (TTT) which undertakes the manual telephony.
The Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE) is established (Law 1049/49). The now unified national telecommunications operator undertakes the operation of all telecommunications services that until then belonged to the General Directorate of Telephony, Posts and Telegraphs (TTT), the Hellenic Telephone Company (AETE) and the Electric Company of Rhodes.
* The photo is from the opening day.
The first telephone directory of subscribers in Athens, Piraeus and surroundings is published.
The long distance telephone network of the country is automated.
The first antenna of the Center for Satellite Communications of Thermopylae is installed (the 6th in Europe).
The first issue of the Yellow Pages with the professionals of the capital is published.
At the end of 1988, the imposing OTE Administrative Palace in Maroussi started operating. The decision to build the Board of Directors in Athens was taken by the Board of Directors of OTE in the mid-1960s. A Panhellenic tender was held for the construction of the Palace. The task of selecting the best solution was undertaken by an eight-member jury of scientists. The first prize was not awarded, while the preparation of the study for the construction of the Administration Building was assigned to a group of scholars who received the second prize, whose proposal was implemented and provided for a multi-storey building in the shape of a "star in plan".
OTE Telecommunications Museum is established a wide fiber optic network is installed.
The first 350 prepaid phones are installed.
The new Satellite Communications Center is inaugurated in Nemea.
OTE is listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. The mobile telephony company COSMOTE is recommended. The internet service provider OTENET is recommended.
The commercial operation of COSMOTE launches. Greek company listed on NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) for the first time.
The fixed telephony market in Greece is liberalized.
On May 13, 2003, the Hellas Sat 2 satellite is launched from Cape Canaveral.
OTE and COSMOTE contribute the most to the successful realization of the ATHENS 2004 Olympic Games as Major National Sponsors.
OTE introduces the Conn-x TV which is based on IPTV technology, which enables the transmission of the TV signal through the telecommunication cables.
- OTE and COSMOTE undertake Sponsors of the SPECIAL OLYMPICS World Games ATHENS 2011
- OTE exits the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
A new era begins for pay-TV services in Greece. The OTE TV service is presented via Satellite and all the pay-TV services are integrated.
New high speed Internet, VDSL speeds up to 50 Mbps are commercially available.
The single COSMOTE brand is established.
Lars Magnus Ericsson, the Swedish inventor of the telephone device, installs a portable telephone in his wife's car.
They are placed in Chicago police cars, radios that signal emergency situations.
Two-way radios are displayed that allow you to talk and listen at the same time without having to press a button.
Wireless transceivers (Walkie-Talkie) are available that can be carried by a human.
This is the first time a radiotelephone connection has been made to a landline.
The first mobile phones were car telephones and operated on a single frequency, a specific communication channel.
The radiotelephone consists of a transmitter, a receiver and its module mounted in the luggage compartment. They are powered by the car battery.
The first commercial mobile network in Sweden is created.
The technology of transistors is emerging, the size and weight of mobile phones are shrinking, they are more widespread, but they remain car accessories.
The first commercial mobile network in the USA is created.
The first tests and applications of the cellular system begin. The first mobile phones appear.
The first cellular phone call is made by Martin Cooper, a Motorola engineer.
The first commercial network with cells is operating in Japan.
The first analog mobile phones are released. Most are the size of a small suitcase.
The Nordic countries are creating a common analog cellular network, which allows roaming and gives growth lead to mobile phone companies such as Ericsson and Nokia.
The countries of the European Community are starting to work together on a single mobile telephony system, GSM.
The DynaTac 8000X is released, the first mobile phone that can be easily carried by a human. It costs very expensive.
The MicroTac, the first small mobile phone, is released.
GSM, the first common mobile system, is being completed. It is immediately adopted by many other countries outside Europe.
In 1992, GSM, the Global System for Mobile Telephony, was launched.
Cosmote starts its commercial operation in the field of mobile telephony. The first two licenses of mobile telephony companies are issued in Greece and the first networks are installed.