Rewind to where it all began

BT is the world's oldest communications company.

We can trace our roots all the way back to The Electric Telegraph Company. Founded by Sir William Fothergill Cooke, George Parker Bidder and Joseph Lewis Ricardo in 1846, it was the first company to develop a nationwide communications network.

Surrounded by apps and smartphones, smart cities and digital this, digital that, it’s easy to take technology for granted. But it wasn’t always like that. 

The basic telegraph was greeted with marvel at the time. It was a stunning technological achievement that literally changed the world. And thanks to the pioneering work done by our predecessors throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries – and continuing in our labs right now – we’re still proudly in the vanguard of technology innovation today. 

We attach great value and importance to our long and rich heritage. Our heritage policies explain how we work to preserve and share our national heritage.

The archive

Our archives don’t just tell the story of the world’s oldest communications company, they provide a fascinating insight into social changes over the past 175 years. 

Postcard highlighting the telegraph service

Through our extensive collection of advertising and marketing materials, you’ll catch glimpses of how all our lives have changed. You’ll marvel at our unparalleled library of phone directories. And you may (occasionally) gasp at our trove of documents showing how communication technology has moved from the novel to the ubiquitous. 

Soldiers using light signalling equipment in the trenches

Lest we forget

November 2018 saw the Centenary of the end of the First World War (1914-1918). To coincide, we launched a memorials database filled with information and personal stories about our colleagues who were commemorated on War Memorials at BT buildings.

Buzby in a car

Multimedia

A picture is worth a thousand words. Our collection of historical film and photography allows you to scroll through the past, to see people at work, how technology has changed over time and how we reached our customers through advertising and marketing campaigns.