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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GTE Corporation, formerly General Telephone & Electronics Corporation (1955–1982),[1] was the largest independent telephone company in the United States during the days of the Bell System. The company operated from 1926, with roots tracing further back than that, until 2000, when it was acquired by Bell Atlantic; the combined company took the name Verizon.

The Wisconsin-based Associated Telephone Utilities Company was founded in 1926; it went bankrupt in 1933 during the Great Depression, and was reorganized as General Telephone in 1934.[2] In 1991, it acquired the third largest independent, Continental Telephone (ConTel).[3] It owned Automatic Electric, a telephone equipment supplier similar in many ways to Western Electric, and Sylvania Lighting, the only non-communications-oriented company under GTE ownership. GTE provided local telephone service to many areas of the U.S. through operating companies, much as American Telephone & Telegraph provided local telephone service through its 22 Bell Operating Companies.

The company acquired BBN Planet, one of the earliest Internet service providers, in 1997. That division became known as GTE Internetworking, and was later spun off into the independent company Genuity (a name recycled from another Internet company GTE acquired in 1997) to satisfy Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements regarding the GTE-Bell Atlantic merger that created Verizon.[4]

GTE operated in Canada via large interests in subsidiary companies such as BC Tel and Quebec-Téléphone. When foreign ownership restrictions on telecommunications companies were introduced, GTE's ownership was grandfathered. When BC Tel merged with Telus (the name given the privatized Alberta Government Telephones (AGT)) to create BCT.Telus, GTE's Canadian subsidiaries were merged into the new parent, making it the second-largest telecommunications carrier in Canada. As such, GTE's successor, Verizon Communications, was the only foreign telecommunications company with a greater than 20% interest in a Canadian carrier, until Verizon completely divested itself of its shares in 2004.[5]

In the Caribbean, CONTEL purchased several major stakes in the newly independent countries of the British West Indies (namely in Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago).[6][7][8]

Prior to GTE's merger with Bell Atlantic, GTE also maintained an interactive television service joint-venture called GTE mainStreet (sometimes also called mainStreet USA) as well as an interactive entertainment and video game publishing operation, GTE Interactive Media.[9][10][11]


In 1918, Wisconsin public utility accountants Sigurd L. Odegard, John A. Pratt, John F. O'Connell bought the Richland Center Telephone Company for over $30,000 in Winsconsin. In 1920, the three accountants formed Commonwealth Telephone Company as the parent of Richland Center Telephone. Odegard was named president, Pratt vice-president, and O'Connell secretary. In 1922, Clarence R. Brown took over as vice-president when Pratt left the company that year.[12]

Commonwealth Telephone expanded across southern Wisconsin, and made its first purchase outside the state later in the decade when it bought Belvidere Telephone Company in Illinois. It also acquired two electric utilities in Wisconsin. In 1926, the company bought Associated Telephone Company in Long Beach, California. Later that year, Commonwealth Telephone and Associated Telephone merged as Associated Telephone Utilities.

From 1926 to 1923, Associated Telephone Utilities bought over 300 telephone companies across the United States. During this time period, Associated Telephone Investment Company was created in 1930 as a branch of Associated Telephone Utilities. By 1933, both Associated Telephone Utilities and its branch went out of business due to financial losses.

General Telephone

In 1935, General Telephone Corporation was established with John Winn as president. The following year, the company created General Telephone Directory Company as a division. In World War II, General Telephone helped install phone service for military facilities. From 1946 to 1950, General Telephone obtained over 100,000 telephone lines and bought out Leich Electric Company.

General Telephone’s holdings included 15 telephone companies across 20 states by 1951, when Donald C. Power was named president of the company under chairman and long-time GT executive Morris F. LaCroix, replacing the retiring Harold Bozell (president 1940 - 1951). Power proceeded to expand the company through the 1950s principally through two acquisitions.

In 1955, Theodore Gary & Company became a part of General Telephone and allowed the company to hold over 2 million telephone lines after the company merge. It also had a subsidiary, named the General Telephone and Electric Corporation, formed in 1930 with the Transamerica Corporation and British investors to compete against ITT.[13]

In 1959, Sylvania Electric Products merged into General Telephone and was renamed to General Telephone & Electronics Corporation (GT&E). Power also obtained the purchases of multiple companies. such as Lenkurt Electric Company, Inc and Peninsular Telephone Company. In 1960, GT&E International Incorporated was created as a branch company. Power was named C.E.O. and chairman in 1961, making way for Leslie H. Warner, formerly of Theodore Gary, to become president. Simultaneously, GT&E went on to buy Community Antenna Television providers.

In 1964, Western Utilities Corporation became part of GT&E. Additional purchases during the 1960s included Hawaiian Telephone Company and Northern Ohio Telephone Company. At the end of the decade, ten million GT&E phones were active.

KarTrak Automated Car Identification system on a caboose in Florida.
KarTrak Automated Car Identification system on a caboose in Florida.

In the late 1960s, GT&E joined in the search for a railroad car Automatic Car Identification system. It designed the KarTrak optical system, which won over other manufacturer's systems in field trials, but ultimately proved to need too much maintenance. In the late 1970s the system was abandoned.

After a 1970 bomb attack to the company's headquarters in New York City, the company relocated to Stamford, Connecticut for their new headquarters. In 1971 GT&E undertook an identity change and became simply GTE, while Sylvania Electric Products became GTE Sylvania.[14] The same year, Donald C. Power retired and Leslie H. Warner became chairman of the Board. Theodore F. Brophy was brought in as president.

In 1974, GTE joined American Telephone & Telegraph in a project to create satellite stations. A few years later, the company's international branch was replaced by a GTE products company in 1976. Their products company remained until 1979. In 1979, GTE purchased Telenet to establish a presence in the growing packet switching data communications business. GTE Telenet was later included in the US Telecom joint venture.


In December 1983 Vanderslice stepped down as the company's president and chief operating officer.

A manhole cover featuring the company logo in Hillsboro, Oregon
A manhole cover featuring the company logo in Hillsboro, Oregon

In April 1988, after the retirement of Theodore F. Brophy, James L. "Rocky" Johnson was promoted from his position as president and chief operating officer to CEO of GTE, he was appointed chairman in 1991.[15]


In April 1992, James L. "Rocky" Johnson retired after 43 years at GTE, remaining on the GTE board of directors as Chairman Emeritus. Charles "Chuck" Lee was named to succeed Johnson. In 1994, Lee sold the company's sattelite provider, Spacenet, to General Electrics and Contel of Maine to Oxford Networks, which placed the company into a newly created subsidiary, Oxford West Telephone.[12]

Acquisition by Bell Atlantic

Original Verizon logo introduced at the time of the acquisition
Original Verizon logo introduced at the time of the acquisition

Bell Atlantic acquired GTE on June 30, 2000, and named the new entity Verizon Communications. The GTE operating companies retained by Verizon are now collectively known as Verizon West division of Verizon (including east coast service territories). The remaining smaller operating companies were sold off or transferred into the remaining ones. Additional properties were sold off within a few years after the merger to CenturyTel, Alltel, and Hawaiian Telcom. On July 1, 2010, Verizon sold many former GTE properties to Frontier Communications.[16] Other GTE territories in California, Florida, and Texas were sold to Frontier in 2015 and transferred in 2016, thus ending Verizon's landline operations outside of the historic Bell Atlantic footprint.[17] Verizon still operates phone service in non-Bell System areas in Pennsylvania under Verizon North, and in non-Bell System areas in Virginia and Knotts Island, North Carolina under Verizon South.

Operating companies

Prior to the acquisition with Bell Atlantic, GTE owned the following operating companies in the US:[18]

Following the acquisition with Bell Atlantic, some of these companies and/or access lines have been sold off to other companies, such as Alltel, ATEAC,[19] The Carlyle Group, CenturyTel, Citizens/Frontier Communications, and Valor Telecom.


  1. ^ "Bell Atlantic and GTE Pick Post-Merger Name". New York Times. April 4, 2000. Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "GTE Corporation". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  3. ^ "Investor Relations - Verizon".
  4. ^ "Bell Atlantic and GTE Chairmen Praise FCC Merger Approval". Verizon. Retrieved January 10, 2014.
  5. ^ "Sale of 73.5 million TELUS shares by Verizon completed". TELUS News Release. December 14, 2004. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 8, 2008.
  6. ^ Felipe M Noguera. "Telecommunications in The Caribbean".
  7. ^ "Cable & Wireless Barbados: Early History". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  8. ^ "Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago - Corporate History". Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  9. ^ Linda Haugsted (1992-12-07). "Daniels Cablevision launches GTE Main Street. (package of interactive information services)". Multichannel News. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16.
  10. ^ "CREATIVE MULTIMEDIA AND GTE MAIN STREET STRIKE PARTNERSHIP; New agreement will deliver CD-ROMs over subscribers' TV sets". Business Wire. May 30, 1995.
  11. ^ Mike Farrell (May 24, 2004). "Sale of Cerritos Cable System Expected Soon". Multichannel News.
  12. ^ a b "GTE Corporation - Company History". Retrieved February 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Transamerica into Telephones," Time Magazine, 20 October 1930.
  14. ^ "Company History". Vintage Sylvania. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  15. ^
  16. ^ FCC Internet Services Staff. "Corporate History - Verizon Communications (formerly GTE Corporation)". Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  17. ^ "Verizon must slash $375M in costs to stay on even keel following Frontier sale, Jefferies says". FierceTelecom.
  18. ^ Affiliated Interest Agreement - Advice No. 26. Verizon Northwest, Inc. Exhibit 1.
  19. ^ "News Releases - Verizon News".

External links

This page was last edited on 14 November 2020, at 16:37
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