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The Nokia Story… Part 1.

Founder: Fredrik Idestam Age of founder at start: 27
Background: Mining engineer and businessman Year of foundation: 1865

The little tune which plays every time a Nokia phone rings must now be one of the  best-known tunes in the world, being heard hundreds of millions of times every day.
Nokia is the global market leader in mobile phone manufacturing with a staggering .40% market share despite plenty of substantial competitors.

Starting up
Nokia almost certainly has the least likely beginnings imaginable for a modern mobile phone company. Today's telecoms giant's ancestor business was conceived in relatively humble beginnings, in 1865. This is when founder Fredrik Idestam $successfully obtained a permit to build a ,wood pulp mill on the Tammerkoski river, by the small industrial town of Tampere 'southern Finland.

The name 'Nokia' comes from the river which runs through Tampere. The river is called Nokianxirta, an old Finnish word which means 'marten', after the small, dark, furryanimal which was once found in the region and which were commonly known as 'nokia'. 

The mill did well, and was swiftly followed by a second mill on the Nokianvirta river. Nokia provided better facilities for hydropower production, which was important for a wood pulp business. Its location proved useful in keeping labour costs low: the rivers' fertile banks enabled the company to actually grow food for its workforce. Soon, the business took on the name of the town, as happened often in that period (unlike today, companies were usually named after either their founders or their location).

Originally a mining engineer, Idestam brought a new, cheaper paper manufacturing process to Finland from Germany which proved highly successful. In doing so, he cemented his status as the so-called patriarch of the Finnish paper industry, which remains one of the world's major paper producers, with his invention being lauded at the Paris World Exposition in 1867 and winning the bronze medal. .

Shortly afterwards, in 1871, Idestam legitimised his company's name, calling it Nokia Ab and moved its centre of operations to the town of Nokia . 

Ringing out the changes
As it expanded, the company helped the town grow, with roads, bridges and later a telegraph office built in the factory premises (1877). A telephone line was also established between Tampere and Nokia. (It's not difficult to see where Nokia got its brand catchphrase, 'Connecting People', from,) By 1895, Nokia had its own railway station. 

Idestam retired from the company in 1896, after more than 30 years leading the growing enterprise. Just two years later, in the first of many steps in becoming a multi-product conglomerate. Nokia Ab added electricity generation to the business mix to ensure its own supply in its remote location. 

Meanwhile, in 1898, attracted by the rapid development and resources provided by the town of Nokia, the Finnish Rubber Works, founded by Arvid Wickstrom moved in; this would later form the basis of Nokia's own rubber business. 

With business moving apace, in 1912 the Finnish Cable Works were founded by Eduard Pol6n in the town of Nokia. In what was to become a familiar pattern, this too laid the groundwork for Nokia's cable and electronics business. Houses were specifically built by the company for its ever increasing workforce and, ever progressive in their outlook, both the Nokia company and Finnish Rubber Works established vocational schools for both girls and boys. 

Fredrik Idestam, who died on 8 April 1916, is gone, but not forgotten. Nokia Manor, his original home and now the occasional meeting place for Nokia's top management, is currently being excavated; archaeologists consider the site, which has seen activity across the stone, metal and middle ages, as being of important historical and archaeological value. 

In 1922, investors in the Finnish Rubber Works, headed up by lead shareholder Oy Gottfried Stromberg Ab, bought the shares of the Finnish Cable Works, meaning that while they were still run as separate companies, all three companies in the town were now owned by the same investors. The businesses continued to grow, and managed to survive the Second World War intact. ' 

In fact the Second World War ultimately proved helpful to the company. As part of Finland's war reparations to the Soviet Union, the Finnish Cable Company had to provide cable to the Soviet Union. At the time the Finnish Cable Company was headed up by a colourful character called Verner Weckman. Verner had been the Olympic Gold Medallist in 1906 in Athens, Finland's first ever Olympic Gold Medallist, in fact. After his sporting prowess, Verner went on to become a mining engineer, working extensively in Russia between 1906 and 1922, where he learned the language fluently and gained a great understanding about the culture of the Russian people. He went on to be technical director of the Finnish Cable Company for 10 years before being appointed chief executive. After the end of the war, Verner used his extensive knowledge of Russia to build a substantial export business to the country, its first foray into international expansion.

The Cable Works explored the boom in electronics with the establishment of its first electronics department in 1960, selling and operating computers. Just two years later, it had developed its first in-house electrical 'gadget': a pulse analyser for nuclear power plants. This period was key to Nokia's later development into a mobile power house; in 1963 it began to experiment with radio telephones for the army and emergency services and further develop its burgeoning communications expertise . 

With this momentum building, the turning point for Nokia as a company finally arrived. Although they had been jointly owned since 1922, in 1967 came the formal merger of Nokia Ab (interestingly, the smallest of the three businesses at the time), Finnish Rubber Works and Finnish Cable Works, creating the Nokia Corporation. This corporation then operated in five key areas: rubber, cable, forestry, electronics and power generation. Industrialist Bjorn Westerlund was the firm's first president, taking over from Werner Weckman. Armed with a degree in electrical engineering from the Helsinki University of Technology, Westerlund is widely credited as laying the foundations for Nokia's dominance in the electronics and mobile sector. 

Ring it on!
Between 1968 and 1991, the newly formed Nokia Corporation was well positioned for a pioneering role in the early evolution of mobile communications. As European telecommunications markets were deregulated and mobile networks became global, Nokia led the way with some iconic products. These included the Nordic Mobile Telephone, the first international mobile phone network, built in 1981. The introduction of the NMT (Nordic Mobile Telephone) standard meant that the mobile phone industry began to expand rapidly. Initially spanning several Nordic countries, the NMT was the world's first international cellular network and the first to allow international roaming and caught on fast both inside and outside Europe. 

Nokia soon introduced the first car phones to the network. The Mobira 450 car phone came in 1982, followed by the portable Mobira Talkman in 1986. By this time the company was also providing base stations and switches for NMT network operators. It developed the Nokia DX200, its first digital telephone switch and the Mobira Cityman, the first handheld NMT phone. In 1991, Nokia equipment was used to make the world's first GSM phone call. GSM, The Global System for Mobile communications, was adopted in 1987 as the European standard for digital mobile technology. This second generation mobile technology cOuld carry data as well as voice traffic. By the end of the 1990s, Nokia had supplied GSM systems to more than 90 operators worldwide. 

As Nokia expanded into Asia, it ensured that the digit 4 never appeared in any Nokia handset model number, as in many areas, it is considered unlucky. be concluded...

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