Sunday, May 26, 2013

In The Beginning

Before going into the history of DATAforce I think that it is important to identify how it came to be.

Bell Canada was organized into five regions or areas as they were called.  There was one for each area code so 418 for Quebec Area, 514 for Montreal Area, 613/705 for Central Area, 416 for Toronto Area and 519 for Western Area.  In addition, there was a final jurisdiction called Toll Area which tied all the pieces together and handled the long distance inter and intra provincial switching.  All of Canada was managed by a consortium called The Trans-Canada Telephone System or TCTS for short.  Within each of the above areas there was a district called "Special Services" which handled all the services that had nothing to do with POTS or Plain Old Telephone Service such as:
Pagers - Bellboy
Private Mobile Services
Radio - Remote Broadcast Hookups for radio and TV stations
Teletype and TWX Services
Data Services
and CPEM or Customer Provided Equipment Maintenance

Around about 1970, all of the Special Services districts and Toll Area were formed into a new organization called Computer Communications Region which later morphed into CCNS or Computer Communications and Network Services.  The Computer Communications portion later became CCG or the Computer Communications Group.  This was an amazing organization which was responsible for the development of Dataroute, DUV technology (Digits under Voice), Datapac (X25) or packet switching (TCPIP anyone?) and Envoy 100 (email).  Remember this was the seventies and eighties.  Not only new services were introduced but many new products called Datacom 100 through 1200, Vucom I, II, III & IV, Vutran which was an inquiry response terminal (the web anyone?) and the Displayphone.  All of this got rolled back into the POTS business in the late eighties and lost its way.  Bell had the digital age in its hand and threw it out the window.

A shining star that came out of CCG was DATAforce which I'll cover in the next installment.

The above photo shows the combined DATAforce/CCG booth at the 1985 Canadian Computer Show.

Bell's approach to progress can be seen in its history "Becoming Bell" published in 2005 where CCG rates only one paragraph out of  124 pages.

DATAforce - How a great business opportunity got totally buggered up.

This blog will review and uncover the history of the DATAforce Division of Bell Canada which operated from 1981 to 1991 under various guises.

My recollections may be a little hazy or biased but I felt it was important for all the people who played a role in creating a great enterprise to be remembered and for future generations of MBA's to understand that they don't know everything.

Above is the Toronto office located at 1 Leswyn Road in the Caledonia/Lawrence area.  It was attached to the Bell work center on Caledonia Road so that we had access to the Automotive Department so that our technician vehicles could be easily maintained.