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A Brief History of Telephone Innovation at Mitel

3 min read

June 27, 2023


From our first circuit boards to the latest high-tech collaboration tools, Mitel has always been a pioneer in the telephone industry. Over the past half-century, we’re proud to have contributed so many “firsts” to the history of telephones, including these highlights. 


1971: Michael Cowpland and Terrence Matthews founded the Mitel (short for MIchael and Terry ELectronics) Corporation in Ontario, Canada, putting together high-tech printed circuit boards for telephone switches.


1983: Mitel sets the standard for business phone functionality with the Superset 4 (SS4), an analog business phone that debuted Mitel-invented Control Over Voice (COV) technology. It became the industry standard as the first phone to provide a multi-line display with context-sensitive feature buttons.

1986: The Superset 4DN, the digital version of the SS4, is introduced.

1994: Mitel is invited by Intel and Microsoft to join a consortium of companies developing the Universal Serial Bus specification – what we know and use today as the USB.

1995: Mitel demonstrates the world’s first USB peripheral – a USB telephone – in the Intel demo room at the 1995 fall COMDEX computer industry show.

1996: Mitel authors the USB Communications Device Class specification for Microsoft, which is still used today as part of the Windows operating system.

1996: Mitel launches the Mitel Personal Assistant (MPA) in the same year. This first-of-its-kind computer telephony integration (CTI) device allows home-based and small business users to plug their phones into their PCs to deliver the functionality of a fully-fledged phone system (including call control, music-on-hold, call history, and voicemail) through their computers.

2003: With the introduction of the Mitel 5230 PDA IP Phone and a Mitel-developed application, users can connect and control their IP desk phones using their digital assistant (PDA) for the first time.

2006: The Mitel Navigator IP Phone integrates physically and functionally with the user’s PC. Brand-new features include key programming, on-screen key labels, contact lookup, and dial-from-PC. For the first time, users can launch a PC application from a button on the phone. 

2006: Mitel presents the innovative HTML toolkit for its 5300 IP Phone family, allowing users to create custom phone applications using a standard webpage editor.

2012: The UC360 Collaboration Point becomes the world’s first high-quality conference phone with a built-in four-party HD video conferencing bridge.

2021: Mitel embeds new antimicrobial protection into the 6920t and 6930t IP phones, making them the first phones to promote improved hygiene and facilitate a cleaner working environment.

2021: For the first time, 6900 Series IP Phones include PCLink, which enables users to use their phone as a Bluetooth audio device for PC-based video calls. Users can manage traditional phone calls and computer collaboration directly from a single high-quality, easy-to-use device.



Industry analysts reflect on #50YearsOfMitel >



Mitel Phones Make Everyday Impacts Around the World


Of course, we aren’t creating all these world-first inventions just for innovation. We develop cutting-edge products so our customers can make the crucial connections they need to move the world forward.


Here are just a few ways Mitel phones make a difference every day.


Healthcare


In a healthcare environment, efficient and timely communications can mean the difference between life and death. Mitel phones can be found at nursing stations throughout hospitals around the world.


One feature that sets Mitel’s phones apart for healthcare providers is their large number of programmable keys for one-touch speed dial and other telephony features. Having numerous dedicated buttons to facilitate vital communications is ideal for nursing stations, where quick access to required personnel and departments is crucial.


Providing a clean environment is also paramount in healthcare settings, and Mitel’s pioneering antimicrobial IP desk and cordless phones are ideally suited to maintaining hygiene standards in every workplace.


Education


Effective communications throughout school facilities have become paramount with the heightened concern for student and staff safety today. Mitel’s phones are found in some of the largest K-12 school districts in America, including Chicago Public Schools and the New York Board of Education.


Mitel phones provide the tools for administrators, students, and teachers to stay connected from the classroom to the front office. Users in education can quickly sign up for classes, log on for virtual learning, and make important calls during emergencies.


Hospitality


Look behind the front desk of most hotels in North America (and elsewhere around the globe), and you’ll find a Mitel phone hard at work. The front desk of any hotel is the critical point of interaction with guests, whether checking in or answering requests for wake-up calls or extra pillows.


Mitel’s console and desk phones have been the workhorse of many hotels worldwide, facilitating excellent customer service by providing practical communications tools for interacting with guests and fulfilling their requests. They’re also doing important work behind the scenes, helping back-office staff keep hotel operations running smoothly.


What’s Next for Telephones?


The ongoing balance of home and office working will drive the evolution of the traditional desk phone. Companies must address the unique challenges of hybrid work and change to business settings, which continue to develop even now.


“In the future, we can expect to see a focus on driving higher quality audio with more advanced audio codecs and new background noise filtering capabilities,” predicted Peter Couse, Portfolio Manager of Desktop and Wireless Endpoints.


“Interworking with PC-based video collaboration will also become a key aspect of the future phone,” he added. “The phone will look more like a PC peripheral than a standalone communications device.”


The rise of work-from-home has also made phone design less business-like and more home office-friendly. No longer associated solely with suits and boardrooms, the tools to make conference calls need to be accessible anywhere the user happens to be.


Even phones in in-person settings like hospitals, schools, and hotels reflect the shift to a more flexible work style. With multifunctional apps and cloud connectivity, they may function more like our personal devices rather than traditional office hardware.



In 2023 we celebrate #50YearsOfMitel. Read up on our other innovations and achievements >


Categories: Business Phones, Culture

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