Canada's Telecommunications Hall of Fame officially inducted six telecom pioneers and industry leaders for 2006.
Ted Rogers, CEO of Rogers Communications Inc. was the latest member inducted into Canada's year-old Telecommunications Hall of Fame, along with his father, radio pioneer Edward Rogers, and four others.
They joined last year's first eight laureates, led by Alexander Graham Bell. The six new members were inducted into the online Hall at a dinner in Toronto in October.
The 2006 Telecom Hall of Fame Laureates are Edward S. "Ted" Rogers (CEO, Rogers Communications Inc.), Edward S. Rogers, Sr. (Communications Inventor and Wireless Wizard), Donald L. Hings (Inventor of the Walkie Talkie, Burnaby, B.C.), Leila Wightman (Rural Telephone Pioneer, Clifford, Ontario), Francis Dagger (Public Ownership Advocate for the Prairies), and Ernest E. "Ernie" Saunders (Dean of Canadian Telecom Law and Regulation, Montreal, Quebec).
The 2006 Hall of Fame Special Recognition Award was awarded to Digital World, the hugely successful digital switching initiative of Bell-Northern Research (BNR) and Northern Telecom (now Nortel) that revolutionized global telecommunications in the mid-1970s.
"Ted Rogers, an icon of business, is acknowledged for his tenacious pursuit of excellence and his entrepreneurial leadership in the Canadian telecom industry," said Lorne Abugov, Founder of the Hall of Fame, which launched in May 2005. "Building on his extensive career in the cable TV business, Ted Rogers jumped into the telecom industry with Cantel Cellular (now Rogers Wireless) in 1985 - Canada's first national cellular service to compete with the established telcos. He continued to go up against the big guns in telecom, helping to open up the long distance monopoly in Canada with Unitel, launching his successful high-speed broadband internet service and more recently entering the local phone market with the Rogers Home Phone service."
"It is significant that the Hall of Fame Selections Committee also inducted Edwards S. Rogers Sr., Ted's father, as a 2006 Hall of Fame Laureate," noted David Colville, Chair of the Selections Committee and past Vice-chairman of the CRTC. "Edward Rogers Sr. conceived of, and commercialized the world's first battery-less radio - a major invention that forever simplified radio communications. His invention of the world's first alternating current (AC) radio tube in 1925 ranks as one of the most significant innovations in Canadian radio communications history, and its effects are still felt today around the world.
"Nor can we overlook the scientific genius of Donald Hings," added Colville. "His modifications of the two-way radio, a device of his own creation which he evolved into the world's first functional and operational walkie-talkie, saved the lives of thousands of British, Canadian and American troops during the Second World War and helped to usher modern telecommunications technologies into the military".
Other members of the Class of 2006 Laureates and the 2006 Special Recognition Award Winner have left major marks on the Canadian telecommunications industry:
- Leila Wightman's 50-year career at Wightman Telephones in rural Ontario, some 27 of those heading up the company following the sudden death of her husband in 1948, is as inspirational a story as any in Canadian telecom.
- Ernie Saunders was one of Canada's greatest administrative law litigators over his distinguished career in private practice and at Bell Canada's Legal Department. His induction into the Hall of Fame's Advocates & Academics category rightfully honours his memory as the country's foremost practitioner of Canadian telecom law and regulation.
- Francis Dagger was the driving force behind the establishment of public ownership in the Canadian telecom industry. A champion of the public interest in telephony throughout his career, his work as a telephone expert for the federal and provincial governments between 1903 and 1907 was instrumental to the creation of government-owned telephone companies in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
- The Digital World initiative of the mid-1970s ranks as one of the boldest and most successful technology advances in telecommunications technology of the 20th Century. The R&D vision of Bell-Northern Research and Northern Telecom to design and market a fully-digital network platform gave Canada a two-year head-start in digital switching technology and revolutionized telecommunications around the globe.