Nortel Networks Corp., which was previously known as Northern Telecom Limited or Northern Electric, was a telecommunications and data networking manufacturer founded in Montreal, Quebec in 1895. Nortel, at its most successful, accounted for over a third of the total value of all companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). The company employed more than 94,500 people around the world at that time and was headquartered in Mississauga, Ontario. Nortel filed bankruptcy in 2009, in the largest bankruptcy case in Canadian history, announcing it would sell of off assets and end its operations. This left shareholders, pensioners, and former employees with huge losses. During the period since the bankruptcy, the company’s executives continued to draw bonuses, angering creditors in Canada, the UK, and the US and leading to a protracted legal battle over the remnants of the business assets. In October, 2016, a settlement was reached to distribute $7.3 billion in assets to claimants, who expected to receive about 57 cents on the dollar for their claims.
Nortel was a leader in the telecommunications world, from the early years when it built a portable communicator for military field service during World War I, and creating a dial-up PBX system, to developing communications/satellite systems during the 1960’s, which was used by Hughes Aircraft Company, and launching the “Princess” phone with the handset dial that was the state-of-the-art in most 1970’s homes. The company was at the forefront of the fiber-optic technology switch that is currently under way due to its cost-effectiveness and reliability. The company also was the one that developed a billing system that allowed speech recognition technology to automate collect calls, and those billed to a third party or calling card. Nortel played a large role in moving the communications world forward into the networked world we have today.