History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Cable Timeline: 1850-2021
by Bill Glover

Introduction: Over two thousand submarine communications cables have been laid since the early attempts of the 1840s followed by the first commercially successful cable, the England to France link of 1851.

Bill Glover's ongoing project presents a comprehensive time line of all major cables and many of the minor ones, with links to cable sample images, company descriptions, and cableship histories. As of October 2022, almost 2,300 cables are listed in four chronological sections.

This page also includes other related articles on cables.

Special thanks to Gill Cookson, Allan Green, Steve Roberts, and the other contributors listed below for their help with these pages.

If you can add cables we have overlooked, or update any of the missing information (shown as ? in the listings) on cable manufacturers, cableships used, or other details, please email me.

Telegeography’s interactive map is an excellent resource for further information on in-service cables.

--Bill Burns

Cable Timeline - Atlantic Cables only, 1856-2022

Cable Timeline 1845-1900 (689 entries)

Cable Timeline 1901-1950 (514 entries)

Cable Timeline 1951-2000 (571 entries)

Cable Timeline 2001 - present (514+ entries)


Early British Domestic cables by Steven Roberts

Salient Features In Cable Design Since 1850
Cable Core Examples - 1875-1912
Telcon Cable Designs - Late 19th Century
Cable Route Maps

Cable Signalling Speeds

Cable Price List - 1870s: Siemens Brothers

Cable Recovery for Repair

Thanks to the following site visitors for their contributions to the Timeline:

10 August 2003: Jonathan Greifenberger, former AT&T Submarine Systems transmission engineer, for additional information on some of the 1990s cables.

3 December 2003: João Mota Vieira of the Azores Submarine Cable Station for additional information on recent cables in the region.

2 January 2004: José Herdade of Portugal Telecom for updated information on cables landing in Portugal.

30 March 2004: Per Ljung, Survey Manager, Swedia Networks AB, for information on Scandinavian cables, 1988-2000.

3 October 2005: Derek Bullock, Director of Operations at Hibernia Atlantic for updated information on the Hibernia cable, 2001.

4 October 2005: Gustavo Coll, former telegraph technician in Uruguay, for updated information on cables in that region (1866, 1892, 1910, 1920).

8 October 2005. Dave Shirt, former cable engineer, for updated information on the 1977 OLUHO cables.

2 January 2006. David Watson, formerly of STC, for much detailed information on STC cable laying in the 1970s and 80s.

25 March 2006. Garrett Austin of International Telecom for information on the company's cables and cableship.

7 July 2006. Per H. Lehne, Editor, Telektronikk, Telenor R&D, for information on Telenor's 2004 cable.

24 January 2013. Graeme Marett for information on Channel Islands cables.

27 October 2014. Jon Clark for information on All America and Commercial Cable Company cables, from the papers of his grandfather, Nelson J. Perryman.

2015. Allan Green and Alcatel, Greenwich, for scans of the company's detailed cable manufacturing records from 1850-1912.

Last revised: 21 November, 2023

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Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me: [email protected]

—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: Atlantic-Cable.com