Choose your region and languages

Some content is only available in English

Didn't find your region or language?

Explore Alcatel-Lucent's History



Elisha Gray and Enos N. Barton form Gray and Barton, a small manufacturing firm based in Cleveland, Ohio. Three years later, the then Chicago-based firm is renamed the Western Electric Manufacturing Company.


American Bell purchases a controlling interest in Western Electric and makes it the exclusive developer and manufacturer of equipment for the Bell telephone companies.


French engineer Pierre Azaria sets up the Compagnie Générale d'Electricité (CGE) with the aim of of taking on the likes of AEG, Siemens and General Electric.


  • Absorption by CGE of Compagnie Générale des Câbles de Lyon.
  • Bell Telephone Laboratories is created from the consolidation of fthe Western Electric Research Laboratories, formed in 1907, and part of the Engineering Department of AT&AT.


The first long-distance television transmission – from Washington, D.C., to New York City – is a notable first for Bell Labs.


Alsthom by Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques and Compagnie Française Thomson-Houston are formed.


Dr. Clinton J. Davisson becomes the first of 11 Nobel Prize winners from Bell Laboratories for his experimental confirmation of the wave nature of electrons.


After playing a critical role in providing communications and command equipment for the U.S. military during World War II, Western Electric is able to direct its efforts toward filling the pent-up demand for telephones, producing a record 4 million telephones.


  • Reuse of radio frequencies among hexagonal "cells" is discovered, leading to cellular communications.  In the mid-1940s, Bell Labs creates the cellular concept and developed the first commercial mobile telephone service.
  • Bell Labs invents the transistor.  Three Bell Labs scientists later received the Nobel Prize for their scientific breakthrough.


Claude Shannon quantifies "information" (Information Theory) and gives engineers a math-based theoretical maximum information carrying capacity for any communications system.


Bell Labs invents the solar cell battery allowing conversion of sunlight directly into electricity.


  • First trans-Atlantic telephone cable is placed into service, handling up to 36 simultaneous calls.
  • AT&T signs a consent decree to settle a 1949 antitrust suit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.  The decree limits Western Electric to manufacturing equipment for the Bell System and contract work for the government, so Western quickly sells its small non-telephone subsidiary Westrex to Litton Industries and its holdings in Northern Electric (now known as Nortel) to the public.


Laser is invented at Bell Laboratories.


Bell Labs builds and successfully launches Telstar I, the first orbiting communications satellite.


Absorption by CGE of the Société Alsacienne de Constructions Atomiques, de Télécommunications et d'Electronique (Alcatel).


UNIX operating system is invented by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie.  A simple but elegant time-share software system for computers, it is designed to run on computers of all sizes, making open systems possible. UNIX later becomes the foundation for the Internet. The UNIX operating system and the C programming language, closely intertwined in both origin and impact, are created at Bell Labs between 1969 and 1972.  UNIX makes large-scale networking of diverse computing systems -- and the Internet -- practical. The C language brings an unprecedented combination of efficiency and expressiveness to programming.  Both make computing more "portable."  Today, UNIX is the operating system of most large Internet servers, as well as business and university systems; C and its descendants are the most widely used programming languages in the world.


Ambroise Roux becomes CGE's chairman. At the end his term, he remains honorary chairman until his death in 1999.


First service trial of Bell Labs-developed cellular system is conducted in Chicago.


Bell Labs introduces the digital signal processor chip.


  • Jean-Pierre Brunet becomes CGE's chairman.
  • AT&T and the U.S. Justice Department settle a 1974 antitrust suit, with modification of final judgment (MFJ) to the 1956 consent decree.  AT&T agrees to divest its local telephone companies effective Jan. 1, 1984, and in turn is freed from other 1956 restrictions.  As part of divestiture, Western Electric's charter is assumed by a new unit, AT&T Technologies.  AT&T Technologies has separate market-focused business units to manufacture and sell consumer products, network systems, technology systems and information systems.


First high-capacity, long-haul lightwave transmission system between New York City and Washington, D.C.


  • Georges Pebereau becomes CGE's chairman.
  • Thomson CSF's public telecommunication and business communication operations are merged into a holding company Thomson Télécommunications, which is taken over by the CGE group.
  • Câbles de Lyon buys Thomson Jeumont Câbles and Kabeltel under the CGE-Thomson agreements.


  • Alsthom Atlantique changes its name to Alsthom.
  • Merger between CIT-Alcatel and Thomson Télécommunications. The new entity adopts the name Alcatel.


  • Alcatel NV formed following an agreement with ITT Corporation, which sells its European telecommunications activities to CGE.
  • Pierre Suard becomes CGE's chairman.
  • CGE buys into Framatome (40%).
  • Câbles de Lyon becomes a subsidiary of Alcatel NV.


  • CGE is privatized.
  • Alsthom wins an order to supply equipment for the TGV Atlantique network and leads the consortium of French, Belgian and British companies involved in the building of the northern TGV network.


  • Link-up of Alsthom and General Electric Company (UK).
  • Merger of Alsthom's activities and GEC's Power Systems division into a joint company.


  • Agreement between CGE and General Electric Company and setting up of GEC Alsthom.
  • CGEE-Alsthom changes its name to Cegelec.
  • AT&T Technologies branches into several business units, including AT&T Network Systems, AT&T Global Business Communications Systems, AT&T Microelectronics and AT&T Consumer Products, which later combine with Bell Labs to become Lucent Technologies.


  • CGE-Fiat agreement. Alcatel takes over Telettra and Fiat acquires a majority stake in CEAC.
  • Acquisition by Câbles de Lyon of Câbleries de Dour (Belgium) and Ericsson's US cable operations.
  • Agreement on Framatome's capital structure, with CGE holding a 44.12% stake.


  • Compagnie Générale d'Electricité changes its name to Alcatel Alsthom.
  • Purchase of the transmission systems division of the American group Rockwell Technologies.
  • Câbles de Lyon becomes Alcatel Cable and takes over AEG Kabel.


Alcatel Alsthom acquired AEG Kabel (subsequently renamed Kabel Rheydt), a leading cable manufacturer in Germany, strengthening its presence in this region.


Acquisition of STC Submarine Systems, a division of Northern Telecom Europe (today Nortel Networks).


  • Serge Tchuruk becomes chairman and CEO of Alcatel Alsthom. He restructures the company focusing on telecommunications.
  • AT&T proposes forming three separate, publicly traded companies to serve the increasingly divergent business needs of its customers.


Lucent Technologies launches its separation from AT&T with an initial public offering, which is at the time the largest ever on the New York Stock Exchange.



  • Alcatel Alsthom is renamed Alcatel.
  • Acquisition of the American DSC which has a solid position in the US access market
  • Initial public offering of GEC ALSTHOM which becomes Alstom. Alcatel retains 24% in the newly-formed company.
  • Alcatel sells Cegelec to Alstom.
  • Horst Stormer of Bell Labs and two former Bell Labs researchers receive the Nobel Prize in physics for their discovery of the fractional quantum Hall effect.


  • Acquisition of Xylan, Packet Engines, Assured Access and Internet Devices, specializing in Internet network and solutions.
  • Alcatel raises its participation in Thomson CSF (now Thales) to 25.3% and reduces its participation in Framatome to 8.6 %.


  • Acquisition of Newbridge, worldwide leader in ATM technology networks.
  • Acquisition of the American company Genesys, worldwide leader in contact centers.
  • Acquisition of Innovative Fibers-world leader in DWDM optical filters.
  • Alcatel’s cable activities are subsidized and renamed Nexans.
  • Lucent spins off its enterprise networking group – Avaya Inc.


  • Alcatel sells its 24% share in Alstom
  • IPO of a significant part of Cables & Components business (Nexans activity). Alcatel keeps 20% of Nexans shares.
  • Acquisition of the remaining 48.83% stake held in Alcatel Space by Thales, bringing Alcatel's ownership of Alcatel Space to 100%. After this transaction, Alcatel's stake in Thales decreased from 25.29% to 20.03%.
  • Disposal of 4.2% stake in Thales
  • Alcatel sells its 2.2% participation in Areva.
  • Alcatel sells its DSL modem activity to Thomson Multimedia.
  • Agere Systems, Lucent's microelectronics business, completes an initial public offering as a separate company.


  • Acquisition of Astral Point Communications Inc., a U.S. company and front-runner in next generation SONET Metro Optical Systems.
  • Alcatel sells its microelectronics activities to STMicroelectronics
  • Alcatel sells its remaining share in Thomson
  • Alcatel acquires control of Alcatel Shanghai Bell
  • Alcatel completes the acquisition of the Telera Corporation.
  • Alcatel sells 10.3 million Thales shares (reduces Alcatel's shareholdings in Thales from 15.83% to 9.7%).
  • Alcatel sells 1.5 million Nexans shares (reduces Alcatel's shareholding in Nexans from 20% to 15%)
  • Pat Russo returns to Lucent as chief executive officer and becomes chairman in 2003.


  • Alcatel sells 50% shareholding in Atlinks, a manufacturer of residential telephones, to Thomson.
  • Acquisition of iMagicTV, a Canadian supplier of software products and services that enable service providers to create, deliver and manage digital television and media services over broadband networks.
  • Acquisition of TiMetra Inc., a privately held, Silicon Valley-based company that produces routers.
  • Alcatel's optical components business sold to Avanex.
  • SAFT Batteries subsidiary sold to Doughty Hanson.


  • The SAFT subsidiary which specialized in battery operations was sold to Doughty Hanson.
  • Alcatel and TCL Communication Technology Holdings Limited form a joint venture mobile handset company. The joint venture company is 55% owned by TCL and 45% owned by Alcatel.
  • Alcatel and Draka Holding N.V. ("Draka") combine their respective global optical fiber and communication cable businesses. Draka owns 50.1% and Alcatel owns 49.9% of the new company, Draka Comteq B.V.
  • Alcatel acquires privately held, U.S.-based eDial Inc., a leading provider of conferencing and collaboration services for businesses and telephone companies.
  • Alcatel sells 7.1 million Avanex shares, bringing its stake in this company to below 20%.
  • Alcatel completes the acquisition of the privately held, U.S.-based Spatial Communications (known as Spatial Wireless), a leading provider of software-based and multi-standard distributed mobile switching solutions.
  • Lucent reports its first profitable year and first year of revenue growth since fiscal 2000.


  • 2005 was a record year for Alcatel in terms of results, contracts, events, and agreements as operators looked to Alcatel for network transformation solutions.
  • Jeong Kim becomes 11th president of Bell Labs and Lucent signs a multiyear contract with Sprint worth more than $1.5 billion.


  • Alcatel announced a deal to increase its shareholding and transfer its satellite subsidiaries, its railway signaling business and its critical security systems domains to Thales, a key player in the French defense industry.
  • On November 30, 2006, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies merge.
  • Acquired Nortel's UMTS radio access business to strengthen its leadership position in this technology.


  • Announced plans to acquire all the assets, including all intellectual property of Canadian metro WDM networking supplier Tropic Networks, Inc.
  • Acquired NetDevices, a developer of services gateway products for enterprise branch networks, based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Acquired Thompson Advisory Group, Inc. (TAG), one of the largest nationally recognized telecommunications consulting practices in the U.S. As a fully independent subsidiary, TAG will help enterprise customers cut their telecom expenses by leveraging network outsourcing resources.
  • Acquired Tamblin, a privately held software company that provides applications and tool kits that will enhance Alcatel-Lucent’s solution for enabling IPTV users to easily find, connect and interact with brands and entertainment they care about.


Acquired Motive, Inc., a leading provider of service management software for broadband and mobile data services. The acquisition extends a productive three-year relationship between Alcatel-Lucent and Motive — together the companies jointly developed and sold remote management software solutions for automating the deployment, configuration and support of advanced home networking devices called residential gateways.


In 2009, in keeping with the company’s Application Enablement strategy and our vision of the High Leverage Network™ architecture that supports it, Alcatel-Lucent acquired leading Content Delivery Network (CDN) provider Velocix, followed by the 2010 acquisitions of leading Web 2.0 API repository ProgrammableWeb and OpenPlug, a cross-platform mobile software development tool provider.


  • Alcatel-Lucent achieves unique industry milestone of 200 million DSL lines shipped
  • Bell Labs launches GreenTouch™ consortium to improve the energy efficiency of ICT networks by a factor of 1,000 by 2015
  • Verizon Wireless selects Alcatel-Lucent’s mobile backhaul solution for nation’s first 4G LTE network
  • Bell Labs achieves industry first: 300 Mbps over just 2 traditional DSL lines
  • Alcatel-Lucent acquires OpenPlug, a cross-platform mobile software development tool provider
  • Alcatel-Lucent makes world’s first call over LTE network operating within public safety broadband spectrum
  • Alcatel-Lucent’s book “The Shift” maps the future of web 2.0 and the role of service providers in it


  • Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio™ portfolio wins NGN magazine leadership award for transforming mobile broadband networks
  • Frost & Sullivan honors Alcatel-Lucent with most innovative European communications product of the year award for OpenTouch™
  • Alcatel-Lucent ranked Communications Technology Sector Leader by Dow Jones Sustainability Index
  • Thomson Reuters names Alcatel-Lucent Top 100 global innovator in the list’s first year


  • Closes $1.5 billion divestment of Genesys business to Permira
  • Introduces the 7950 XRS, the world’s most powerful Internet core router
  • Alcatel-Lucent ranked Technology Supersector Leader by Dow Jones Sustainability Index
  • Thomson Reuters names Alcatel-Lucent Top 100 global innovator


  • Michel Combes is appointed as Alcatel-Lucent’s new CEO
  • Gee Rittenhouse is appointed President of Bell Labs, replacing Jeong Kim
  • Alcatel-Lucent leads in VDSL2 vectoring with the shipment of 1 million lines
  • New venture Nuage Networks™ launches Software Defined Networking system
  • Alcatel-Lucent launches ‘The Shift Plan’, the company’s industrial, operational, and financial strategy to refocus as a specialist in IP networking, ultra-broadband access and cloud
  • Alcatel-Lucent and Qualcomm Technologies join forces to develop next generation of small cells for ultra-broadband wireless access
  • Alcatel-Lucent wins Emmy® Award for contributing to fundamental changes in how television is watched
  • Alcatel-Lucent named Industry Group Leader for Technology Hardware & Equipment sector in the 2013 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review
  • Marcus Weldon appointed president of Bell Labs
  • Thomson Reuters names Alcatel-Lucent Top 100 global innovator


  • Alcatel-Lucent passes milestone of 125 million Voice over IP licenses as 4G service providers drive to deploy Voice over LTE
  • Announces global collaboration with Intel to speed industry move to cloud
  • Passes 5 million VDSL2 vectoring lines shipped confirming global adoption of ultra-broadband access over copper
  • Bell Labs announces the Bell Labs Prize and pledges to donate $100,000 to the winner’s university
  • Alcatel-Lucent inaugurates Bell Labs  new research sites in Tel Aviv; Cambridge, UK; and Silicon Valley as well as The Innovation City in France
  • Sets new world record broadband speed of 10 Gbps for transmission of data over traditional copper telephone lines
  • Alcatel-Lucent named Industry Group Leader for Technology Hardware & Equipment sector in the 2014 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review
  • Alcatel-Lucent and UNESCO  begin working together for gender diversity using the company’s grassroots initiative StrongHer as a model.
  • Enters chapter two of The Shift Plan focused on transformation, innovation and growth, with diversification into new segments
  • Alcatel-Lucent sells its LGS and Enterprise businesses
  • Thomson Reuters names Alcatel-Lucent Top 100 global innovator


  • Reaches milestone of 10 million VDSL2 vectoring line shipments, just three years since launching the first VDSL2 vectoring solution
  • Introduces Universal TWDM (Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexed) network to meet demand for gigabit ultra-broadband access services while significantly lowering cost
  • Launches 400G IP router interface, the industry’ first line card, quadrupling speed and delivering four times greater capacity for data center interconnection, video distribution and Internet backbones
  • Announces the world’s first Enterprise Small Cell technology deployment, resulting from the partnership with Qualcomm Technologies
  • Bell Labs announces the Second Annual Bell Labs Prize, to reward 10x game-changing proposals in ICT and related software systems and applications
  • Announces Bell Labs Consulting to advise the industry on the path to the network of 2020
  • Introduces scalable wavelength routing technology with the first solution to be deployed at scale
  • Achieves submarine cable breakthrough with record transmission distance of more than 610km for unrepeatered system
  • GreenTouch™, the global consortium dedicated to dramatically improving the energy efficiency of data communications networks, exceeded mission goals, delivers new technology that can improve energy efficiency in wireless networks by more than 10,000X
  • Achieves distance record for undersea data transmission over more than 10,000 km using unique 300G technology
  • Conducts first TWDM-PON (Time and Wavelength Division Multiplexed Passive Optical Networks) technology field trial in Europe, delivering up to 40 Gbps network capacity over an existing fiber network
  • Enhances delivery of video content with introduction of Elastic content delivery network and cloud-based DVR storage
  • Philippe Camus, Chairman of the Board of Directors, appointed Chairman and Interim CEO
  • Alcatel-Lucent named Industry Group Leader for Technology Hardware & Equipment sector in the 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review
  • Commits to driving innovation through worldwide technology centers located in France that will focus on 5G and Small Cells, Cyber-security and privacy, Bell Labs, Wireless Transmission, Optical transmission, and IP platforms
  • Bell Labs publishes first-ever book, “The Future X Network”, on the future of communications
  • Expands fiber technology portfolio based on TWDM-PON technology to scale next generation fiber deployments in line with gigabit demand
  • Achieves 5 gigabits per second speeds over copper broadband in extensive trial of ultra-broadband access technology in north-east England
  • Introduces industry’s first Vplus products to fill gap between and VDSL2 Vectoring technologies
  • Alcatel-Lucent included in the Carbon Disclosure Project’s (CDP) 2015 Climate A List with a score of 100 A