Skip to main content
A B C D(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) E F G H I(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) J(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) K L M N O P Q(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) R S T U(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) V W X(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) Y(/People and pioneers/Pioneers/) Z
   

John Pender Pender, John (1820-1903)

John Pender was a Scottish entrepreneur who founded the world's largest telecommunications network.Pender was driven by ambition. He left school to work in a cotton mill and became managing director when he was just 21. Four years later, he quit to become a cotton merchant and created John Pender & Company.

But Pender's interests were wider and he turned his hand to telecommunications. He started by investing in the telegraph, became director of the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1856, and in 1864 founded his own company to manufacture cables.

Pender created several important communications companies, including the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, the British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company (which both laid undersea cables), and the Eastern Telegraph Company. He also found time to be a Liberal MP, husband, and father. His business interests later formed the basis of Cable and Wireless Ltd.

fun and games

Can you beat our games? Explode equipment to see what's inside, hear the changing sounds of telecommunications, see how telecommunications designs have changed over time or send an e-postacard.

what's on

The UK's first permanent gallery dedicated to the history of information and communication technologies opens in the new Information Age gallery at London’s Science Museum.

audio history

Take a trip down memory lane with extracts of the interviews which have been recorded as part of the Connected Earth oral history programme.

featured story

100 years of automatic switching!
In 1912 the GPO installed Britain's first automatic telephone exchange in Epsom.

Discover the early days of the telephone...