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history

History

Ever since the launch of the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation in 1952, NTT has created a variety of technologies and proposed new ways of using these in response to the demands of the times.
Here we present the history of communications evolution up until the present day together with the role of communications in Japan's history.

1832

Invention of the Morse Telegraph

In 1832, young American painter and inventor Samuel Finley Breese Morse hit upon the idea of a telegraph using electromagnets while traveling by ship from France to America. He continued his research after arriving home and conducted a successful public demonstration of his transceiver in 1838, after which his invention spread throughout the world. In 1851, there were more than 50 telegraph companies in America using Morse's patent.

Invention of the Morse Telegraph

This telegraph arrived in Japan in 1855. The device was first demonstrated in front of Dutch scholars by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, leader of the Perry Expedition (a diplomatic and military mission to Japan that led to the country ending its long period of isolation). Following the demonstration, the telegraph was presented to the Japanese Shogunate. That same year, the Shogunate also received a telegraph from the Netherlands, and Count Katsu Kaishu was the first person in Japan to attempt communication using these devices. During the Tokugawa Period (1603-1868), research did not progress to a significant extent, but the Meiji Restoration government placed importance on the telegraph. In 1869, British telegraph engineers were invited to Japan, and Japan's first telegraph circuits were opened at the Yokohama Lighthouse Government Office and Yokohama Courthouse. This was the beginning of the telegraph's establishment in Japan.
Photograph: PPA/Aflo

The Morse Telegraph

The Morse Telegraph

This telegraph used the dot-dot-dash Morse code. In Japan, which was just discovering the telegraph as the country began Westernizing, the first telegraphs built (in1869) were Breguet-style dial telegraphs. Since there was no need to remember characters or symbols, dial telegraphs could be used by anyone. Another reason why Japan adopted the dial telegraph was that it cost less than the communication-line Morse telegraph to construct.
Photograph: NTT

This telegraph used the dot-dot-dash Morse code. In Japan, which was just discovering the telegraph as the country began Westernizing, the first telegraphs built (in1869) were Breguet-style dial telegraphs. Since there was no need to remember characters or symbols, dial telegraphs could be used by anyone. Another reason why Japan adopted the dial telegraph was that it cost less than the communication-line Morse telegraph to construct.
Photograph: NTT

  • 1849

    Sakuma Shozan constructs Japan's first telegraph using Western books for reference.

  • 1853

    Arrival of Commodore Perry

  • 1868

    First year of the Meiji period

  • 1870

    The first telegraph service started

  • 1923

    Great Kanto Earthquake

  • 1933

    The prototype rotary dial telephone is born.

  • 1945

    End of the Pacific War

1952

Establishment of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation

In 1952, the telephone and telegraph services delivered by the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Telecommunications were handed over to Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation. At this time, Japan was still undergoing post-war recovery and was lagging behind in technology since its equipment had been ruined.

The Corporation conducted a wide range of efforts to achieve a telephone service that connects instantly, in light of public demand.

1953

Birth of the No. 23 Automatic Wall Telephone

Birth of the No. 23 Automatic Wall Telephone

In 1849, Sakuma Shozan, a samurai from the Matsushiro domain in Shinshu (current-day Nagano Prefecture), constructed Japan's first telegraph using Western books for reference. Five years later, when Perry revisited Japan, the Japanese Shogunate was presented with telegraph sets. From this point onwards, Japan's telegraph and telephone history began in earnest and developed at an astonishing rate. Until the middle of the 20th century, development progressed through a fusion of developed-country technology and technology developed independently in Japan, and the prototype for the familiar rotary dial telephone had already been born by 1933.

Subsequently, functionality and design were enhanced using independent technology exceeding world standards, and by 1939 the number of subscriber telephones nationwide had reached 1 million. Around World War II, the number of telephone subscribers dropped to around 540,000, but the postwar period saw accelerated technological innovation once again, and landline telephones spread.

The No. 23 Automatic Wall Telephone was born in 1953. Although enabling users to call and talk with others simply by turning the dial, without having to go through an operator, conventional automatic telephones had poor transmission characteristics; however, quality was dramatically improved with the No. 23 model.

That same year, mechanization of the telegraph relaying process was realized (at the Mito Telegraph Office) for the first time in Japan, and red-colored public telephones were introduced. These red telephones were installed at 15 locations, including kiosks on the Yokosuka Line platforms and the Yaesu Entrance/Exit of Tokyo Station, their vivid color making their presence known to many people. The year 1953 was also the year in which NHK, NTV, and other television broadcasting services began. With the Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation (now NTT) launched the previous year under the motto of "field-orientated services," expanding telegraph and telephone services with private-sector funding became possible. The 1950s were truly an era in which huge leaps forward were achieved in the telecommunications and wireless telegraphy fields.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

Delville magnetic wall telephones

Delville magnetic wall telephones

Automatic wall telephones that did not require calls to be connected by an operator first appeared in Japan in 1926 during the reconstruction following the Great Kanto Earthquake, at the Kyobashi Office in Tokyo. However, transmission characteristics were poor and parts were old, and so there was a major upgrading of transmitters and circuits in 1953. From around 1959, these telephones were gradually eased out of service. The photograph shows a person speaking on a Delville magnetic wall telephone, which was introduced in 1896.
Photograph: NTT

Automatic wall telephones that did not require calls to be connected by an operator first appeared in Japan in 1926 during the reconstruction following the Great Kanto Earthquake, at the Kyobashi Office in Tokyo. However, transmission characteristics were poor and parts were old, and so there was a major upgrading of transmitters and circuits in 1953. From around 1959, these telephones were gradually eased out of service. The photograph shows a person speaking on a Delville magnetic wall telephone, which was introduced in 1896.
Photograph: NTT

  • 1958

    Completion of Tokyo Tower

600 model automatic desk telephone

600 model automatic desk telephone

Introduced in 1962, the 600 model automatic table telephone was said to be the perfect telephone in terms of transmission performance and cost. Gaining popularity in many households as so-called "kurodenwa (black telephone)" because of its excellent communication functionality, this model became the most common communication tool in those days.

Introduced in 1962, the 600 model automatic table telephone was said to be the perfect telephone in terms of transmission performance and cost. Gaining popularity in many households as so-called "kurodenwa (black telephone)" because of its excellent communication functionality, this model became the most common communication tool in those days.

  • 1965

    Hikari Tokaido Shinkansen services begin

  • 1966

    Japan's total population exceeds 100 million

1968

Pocket Bell (beeper) services commence

Pocket Bell (beeper) services commence

The need for portable communications services for people on the go spread throughout the world, centered on the United States and Europe. The research on pocket bell (buzzer) (=wireless call service) began to meet the need to send the minimum information required to individual people, such as people working away from their office or car (since car phones already existed).

Out of this research, "pagers" ("pocket bell" beepers) that notified people out of the home or office that someone wished to contact them wirelessly using just a push of the dial were born in the United States in 1958. The service was named the "Bellboy Service" after hotel bellhops. Four years later, "pocket bell" contractors were established in Japan, and pager services began in the 23 wards of Tokyo. Use of these devices spread mainly among sales representatives, who spent a large amount of time out of the office, and were also favored by young people. At its peak, the service had more than 6 million subscribers. Later, needs for this service diminished with the spread of mobile telephones, and it was suspended in 2007.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

Later Pocket Bell (beeper)

Later Pocket Bell (beeper)

Born in 1968, the original pocket bell (beeper) devices were an extremely useful communication tool of contacting salespeople who were out of the office, and their use diffused widely. Eventually, these devices also developed a role as a communication tool as young people used them for word play with numbers, and they are the basis for various mobile communication tools.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

Born in 1968, the original pocket bell (beeper) devices were an extremely useful communication tool of contacting salespeople who were out of the office, and their use diffused widely. Eventually, these devices also developed a role as a communication tool as young people used them for word play with numbers, and they are the basis for various mobile communication tools.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

  • 1969

    All Tomei Expressway route services commence

  • 1970

    Japan World Exposition (Osaka EXPO)

  • 1973

    Fax services begin.

  • 1978

    Opening of the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita Airport)

  • 1984

    The Nikkei Stock Average reaches 1 million yen

1985

Privatization from Dendenkosha to NTT (establishment of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation)

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Public Corporation was privatized to achieve liberty in telecommunications. The new company became known as "NTT." The Public Telecommunications Act was revised and renamed the Telecommunications Business Act, liberalizing participation in the telecommunications business.

In the following year, the 1.95 million NTT shares owned by the Japanese Government were sold; services such as the "Pressed Flower Telegram Service," airplane public telephone service, message dial services, and reduced telephone call rates on Saturdays were introduced as customer-orientated business initiatives were enthusiastically developed and expanded.

After privatization, the following companies were founded: NTT DATA CORPORATION (1988), NTT DOCOMO, INC (1991), NTT FACILITIES, INC. (1992), and NTT COMWARE CORPORATION (1997).

Portable shoulder telephone (101 model)

Portable shoulder telephone (101 model)

First-generation shoulder telephones (100 model) weighed a heavy 3 kg. They were portable/car telephones to be used when away from your vehicle. Launched in 1988, the 101 model portable telephone was to be used as a portable phone only. The telephone's portability was groundbreaking, but they weighed 2.5 kg. They were simply an extension of the car phone.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

First-generation shoulder telephones (100 model) weighed a heavy 3 kg. They were portable/car telephones to be used when away from your vehicle. Launched in 1988, the 101 model portable telephone was to be used as a portable phone only. The telephone's portability was groundbreaking, but they weighed 2.5 kg. They were simply an extension of the car phone.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

1987

Mobile telephone services commence

Mobile telephone services commence

In 1987, two years after the launch of shoulder telephones, NTT launched a handheld mobile telephone in response to the needs and expectations of innumerable users. "Take-and-walk" mobile telephone services began. This was also the starting point for the intense race for technological innovation with rivals companies that flocked to the mobile telephone market one after the other.

The year 1991 saw the birth of "mova", a mobile telephone designed to be the "world's smallest and lightest mobile telephone." The huge success of this mobile telephone revolutionized the image of mobile telephones as "status symbols of the wealthy", transforming them into "indispensable communication tools" for many, many people.

In 1992, NTT's mobile communications business was spun off into a new company, NTT Mobile Communications Network, Inc. As the times anticipated the "era of every person having a mobile terminal" that would eventually come, the mobile communications market was explosively invigorated.

The PHS (Personal Handy-phone System) debuted in 1995. Providing inexpensive call rates and using a digital system, these devices became widely accepted as "mobile public telephones" capable of responding to the multimedia era of the future.

Coming ten years after the company's privatization in 1985, this period was truly an "era of innovation and leaps forward" for NTT. However, even during this period, NTT was steadily making preparations for the "next generation" that was soon to arrive.
Photograph: NTT

TZ-802 model

TZ-802 model

The TZ-802 model shown in the photograph weighed approx. 900 g--hardly lightweight by today's standards, but it created the trigger for the concept of mobile telephones to be born. In this year, the number of people with mobile telephone contracts exceeded 100,000 for the first time.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

The TZ-802 model shown in the photograph weighed approx. 900 g--hardly lightweight by today's standards, but it created the trigger for the concept of mobile telephones to be born. In this year, the number of people with mobile telephone contracts exceeded 100,000 for the first time.
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

1988

World's first ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) service launched

INS-Net 64, the world's first ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) service, was launched in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. The maximum transmission rate at the time was 128 kbps (two 64-kbps lines).

  • 1991

    Launch of the WWW

  • 1995

    Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake

1996

OCN internet connection service launched

The Open Computer Network (OCN) was launched in view of the expansion of the Internet. OCN Economy, one of the service offerings, was a 128-kbps constant connection service offered at exceptionally affordable monthly rates, which helped spread the use of the Internet not only to large enterprises, but also to small and mid-size companies and individuals.

1999

Commencement of i-mode services

Commencement of i-mode services

In 1999, when the Internet penetration was not yet that high, the mobile telephone Internet connection service i-mode was launched. In contrast to connecting to the Internet from a computer--which required many steps, including setting-up circuits and modems and concluding contracts with providers--, with i-mode, you could simply access the Internet directly from your mobile telephone, and so the service spread like wildfire. The number of service users was 1 million after six months and grew to some 10 million users in just one year. Not only was the service easy to operate, but also the contents were listed by category in alphabetical order so that users could find the information they wanted at a glance, making the service very easy and convenient to use. Thus i-mode created an opportunity for broadening the Internet base.

Behind the success of this service lay continuous technological evolution, such as the expansion and enhancement of mobile terminal functions, improvement of data communication speed, and reduction of packet communication charges. When the service was initially introduced, terminal screens were black-and-white, but by December of the same year Docomo was using color liquid-crystal screens for the first time, after which advances were made in terms of enhancing high definition and increasing screen size. Furthermore, diverse advances are now the driving force supporting mobile telephone culture. These include the "Deco-mail" service, which enables the use of templates and images in e-mails whereas previously only emoji (pictographs) could be used (introduced in 2004); and the "i-channel" service, which automatically displays news, weather, entertainment news, fortune-telling, and other information on the standby screen (introduced in 2005).
Photograph: exhibit at the NTT History Center of Technologies

1999

Transition to a holding company structure

NTT Group transitioned to a holding company structure, founding NTT EAST, NTT WEST, and NTT COMMUNICATIONS.

mova 501i series

mova 501i series

On February 22, 1999, the mova 501i was the only i-mode service-compliant terminal device. The i-menu contained 68 sites, with content focused on news and weather. The next year saw the launch of i-app, followed by i-motion, flash functions, chaku-motion, chaku-uta (truetone ringtones), and other services one after the other.
Photograph: Reuters/Aflo

>On February 22, 1999, the mova 501i was the only i-mode service-compliant terminal device. The i-menu contained 68 sites, with content focused on news and weather. The next year saw the launch of i-app, followed by i-motion, flash functions, chaku-motion, chaku-uta (truetone ringtones), and other services one after the other.
Photograph: Reuters/Aflo

2001

Provision of optical fiber services to general households

Provision of optical fiber services to general households

NTT was quick to focus attention on optical fiber cables, which have the outstanding characteristics of high speed and broadband transmission, and began developing this technology in the 1970s. GI fiber cables were introduced for suburban broadcasting services (commercial testing) in 1981, and a trans-Pacific submarine cable system was completed in 1989. In this way, by undertaking the diffusion of high-speed/high-volume optical communications systems such as optical fiber systems, NTT has consistently been a leader in the evolution of the optical fiber industry.

These efforts took shape in a big way in 2001. In that year, NTT East Japan and NTT West Japan introduced FTTH (Fiber To The Home)--a communications system for general households that uses optical fibers--in the form of B FLET'S. Subsequently, with the rapid diffusion of the Internet and commencement of video screening services, demand for FTTH (which boasts incredibly fast transmission speeds) increased at an accelerated pace.

Going back two years, NTT DOCOMO launched the "i-mode" service in February 1999. This made it possible to use online services that previously had only been available to personal computer users using just a mobile telephone, thereby making e-mail, ticket reservations, restaurant and "yellow pages" searches, and other convenient services for everyday living easily available for people to use anywhere, anytime. These i-mode services were widely embraced, mainly by younger age groups, generating a record number of service subscribers of some 5.6 million in the year between their introduction and the end of March 2000 and creating a new form of communication.
Photograph: Corbis/Aflo

B FLET'S

B FLET'S

Using optical fiber services provided experimentally from the previous year, provision of fixed price services offering high speed Internet access began in earnest on August 1, 2001 (initial monthly fee: 9,000 yen/100 M maximum). In the approx. four years since commencement of this service, NTT East and West have collectively concluded more than 2 million user contracts.

Using optical fiber services provided experimentally from the previous year, provision of fixed price services offering high speed Internet access began in earnest on August 1, 2001 (initial monthly fee: 9,000 yen/100 M maximum). In the approx. four years since commencement of this service, NTT East and West have collectively concluded more than 2 million user contracts.

  • 2003

    Terrestrial digital broadcasting commences

  • 2005

    Magnetically levitated linear motor car (Aichi High-Speed Transit Tobu Kyuryo Line) opens

2007

Hikari TV service launched

Hikari TV was launched, as a video delivery service for TVs that support FLET'S HIKARI.

2008

Cloud service launched

BizCITY for SaaS Provider was launched as our first cloud service.

2010

Acquisition of Dimension Data and Keane (currently NTT DATA, Inc.)

NTT Group entered overseas markets in the 1990s and chiefly operates in Asia, Europe, and the US. In 2010, we acquired Dimension Data and Keane (currently NTT DATA, Inc.), thereby making preparations to deliver total ICT services around the globe, including Australia, South America, Africa, and the Middle East.

At present, we deliver services to more than 10,000 companies in over 190 countries.

  • 2011

    Great East Japan Earthquake
    Kyushu Shinkansen Kagoshima Route opens

  • 2012

    Tokyo SKYTREE opens

2015

"Towards the Next Stage 2.0" NTT Group Medium-Term Management Strategy announced

To accelerate the initiatives defined in the "Towards the Next Stage" NTT Group Medium-Term Management Strategy announced in November 2012, we formulated and announced the "Towards the Next Stage 2.0" NTT Group Medium-Term Management Strategy in May 2015. With objectives such as achieving 22 billion dollars in overseas sales by the fiscal year ending March 2018 (15 billion dollars as of March 2015), NTT Group will develop high value-added services in collaboration with a wide range of operators to take 2020 and regional revitalization as opportunities for further leaps in the next new stage.

kirari!

kirari!

The immersive telepresence technology Kirari! is NTT's (ultra realistic) telecommunications technology aimed at presenting the space of an entire sporting venue in real time to Japan and the world. This makes it possible to reproduce the intense performance of athletes and the space they are in with a high level of realism at a remote venue, as well as to deliver these to multiple locations around the world at the same time. We will help people share the excitement of sports in 2020 all across the world using this technology for delivering experiences that feel so realistic they make you think you are at the sporting venue.(Photo:PoC in NTT R&D Forum 2015)

The immersive telepresence technology Kirari! is NTT's (ultra realistic) telecommunications technology aimed at presenting the space of an entire sporting venue in real time to Japan and the world. This makes it possible to reproduce the intense performance of athletes and the space they are in with a high level of realism at a remote venue, as well as to deliver these to multiple locations around the world at the same time. We will help people share the excitement of sports in 2020 all across the world using this technology for delivering experiences that feel so realistic they make you think you are at the sporting venue.(Photo:PoC in NTT R&D Forum 2015)

2018

"Your Value Partner" NTT Group Medium-Term Management Strategy announced

In November 2018, the "Your Value Partner 2025" NTT Group Medium-Term Management Strategy was announced.

In an era that demands change and transformation in every area of society and the economy, NTT Group aims to solve social issues through digital transformation and contribute to society through its business operations.

Our commitment to fulfilling our mission as both a public utility and a private company will continue to be our core focus going forward. At the same time, NTT Group will transform itself in response to social and economic changes in its quest to resolve social issues through its business operations together with its partners as "Your Value Partner."

NTT Group will make contributions to realizing Smart World / Society 5.0, a world where all people benefit from ICT, work with greater ease, and have more fun in a happier lifestyle.

Evaluation by Society

    • 2017 TOP 100 GLOBAL INNOVATORS

      As one of the most innovative companies in IP and patent area. NTT received the award for 7th consecutive year

    • CSDE

      Established a council to promote secure digital economy together with multi-national companies

    • EP100 EV100

      NTT is the first telecommunications operator to become a member of global initiatives to make smarter use of energy, “EP100” and “EV100” (Oct. 2018)

    • MEMBER OF Dow Jones Sustainability Indices
    • FTSE4Good
    • FTSE Blossom Japan
    • MSCI