This is a new web site for FTCCommunications Alumni. The purpose is to reminisce and keep in touch. Webmaster is Harold Smith, of Rochester, NY. Photos are being gathered and scanned.
If you have photos you are willing to share, email your FTCC photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments and your stories about your career at FTCC are also welcome at the same email address.
The initials FTCC stand for French Telegraph Cable Company. The company later was named FTCCommunications, Inc.How it all started is listed below.
In the 1870's several communication corporations were formed as speculative ventures. One such organization, the Compagnie Française du Télégraphe de Paris à New York, began in 1879 with the objective of laying a transatlantic cable. In Great Britain, the company was known as the P.Q. Company after its president, Monsieur Pouyer-Quertier. Shortly after its inception, the corporation settled on a route from Brest, France, to the island of St. Pierre in the Miquelon Island group and then to Cape Cod. Using a cable built in England by the Siemens Brothers and an American ship, the C.S. Faraday, the cable was laid in four months. It stretched 2,242 nautical miles across the Atlantic to St. Pierre and 827 nautical miles from there to Cape Cod.
To read about this effort in great detail, click here for a link to Atlantic-Cable.com.
FTCC's Original New York 25 Broad Street Home
Located in the heart of Downtown’s Financial District, 25 Broad Street was created as a turn of the century marvel. At the time of its completion in 1902, the "Broad Exchange Building" was the largest and most valuable office building in all of Manhattan. Designed by the renowned architectural firm of Clinton & Russell, the building was constructed to the highest technological and aesthetic standards of the day. Just one block from the New York Stock Exchange, 25 Broad Street was instantly recognized as one of the most desirable addresses for Wall Street’s brokers and bankers, providing headquarter facilities for Paine, Webber and Company for nearly seventy years.
The impressive street presence and unbeatable location of the Property inspired the previous owner to undertake a comprehensive conversion of 25 Broad Street which was completed in 1997 into 346 luxury residential rental units. The dramatic transformation of the Property ushered in a wave of subsequent residential conversions, giving rise to the 24/7 residential community that is now flourishing Downtown.
The Property’s beautifully renovated lobby preserves the turn-of-the-century grandeur of its original design, adorned with artistic terrazzo floors, marble pilastered walls and ornately coffered 18-foot ceilings. Sweeping marble staircases greet tenants and visitors as they make their way to the hardwood reception desk, which is manned 24-hours a day by in-house security personnel, and a dedicated doorman. The resident and guest experience upon entry to the building is unrivaled in this market.
During the 1997 conversion of the Property, The building was gut-renovated and state-of-the-art-building systems were installed and comprehensive amenities designed to complement the building’s landmark architecture and unbeatable central location. The result was the creation of one of Downtown’s most luxurious residential assets, renamed "The Exchange". As part of the renovation, all major building systems were replaced, including a new roof, new elevators, and a complete overhaul of the HVAC system.
Completed in 1902, 25 Broad Street elicits a sense of elegance associated with another era. The imposing façade reflects the stature of the elite firms it was designed to serve, utilizing a tripartite composition favored by New York’s most fashionable turn-of-the-century skyscrapers. The timeless design includes a base of rusticated granite segueing to a classic design of buff colored brick with terracotta trim. The austere grandeur of the building continues to resonate today, its clean lines and understated ornamentation evoking the unwavering strength of Wall Street as the world’s financial capital. As such, it comes as no surprise that 25 Broad Street has been officially recognized as a landmark of both historical and architectural significance on both the local and national level.
FTCC's 1981 New York 90 John Street Home
FTCC moved "uptown" in 1981 to this 90 John Street location. Several floors of this building housed the operations and administrative offices of FTCC.
90 John Street, the former Joseph Neumann building constructed in 1931 was sold to the Mazal Group in 1996. Much like the 25 Broad Street building, much of this building has been converted to luxury residential rental units and is renamed the Renaissance Apartments.
Click here to view a photo album of the 1982 Christmas Party.
Click here to view a photo album of staff members and equipment at the 90 John Street office.
9-11 victim - Gary H. Lee
One of FTCC's beloved staffers died in the 2001 World Trade Center tragedy. Gary was working for Cantor Fitzgerald in the WTC. Click here for a link to the Cantor Fitzgerald employee tributes site to read about him.
In Search Of:
Phil Mackenzie sends the following email: "Hello, I worked at 90 John Street from 1984-1986. I am trying to locate another FTCC colleague - Bill Nickerson. Do you have any idea how I might find out what ever happened to Bill."
If you can help in this search, please email Phil directly at: email@example.com.
From David Pollard of London
From: "David Pollard" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Hello from a PQ Cable Co Alumnus
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 19:12:13 -0000
Hello Harold - first of all congratulations on starting up this website. It will be very interesting to watch it develop and to see colleagues' stories emerging and, of course, to understand what happened to a company I once worked for.
I believe that both WUI and RCA disappeared into MCI and that TRT got baked into some Central American telecom authorities - am I right? What happened to ITT WorldCom and (of course) FTCC?
I am attaching a note of some of the memories I have of working for PQ Cable Co in London in the early 70's when I was in my 20's. It was an exciting time for us. I hope you will want to include them on the website.
I'll be very interested to find out what happened to the company (in UK, US and France) after I left and maybe catch up with some ex-colleagues. I'd also be interested to know about what the company was like before my era (even in the 1920's and 1930's) but unfortunately I guess time has robbed us of any chance of first-hand witness accounts from those days.
I also see that you are a citizen of Rochester NY - I also have a connection with that area through my Xerox employment. I suppose the plant at Webster is still there? The Xerox story from the 1970's and 1980's is another great tale that needs telling!
Anyway best wishes for the future of the website - and please keep in touch.
DP at PQ.doc
Here are a few of my (unreliable) memories from my time at PQ Cable Co. I hope old colleagues - who I would be delighted to hear from - will excuse me if some of the names are not spelled correctly.
I worked for the PQ Cable Company - the London office of FTCC - between 1972 and 1977.
I first heard of PQ while I was working in the leased line division of the UK Post Office, which was then the monopoly telecommunications provider. The three larger American International Record Carriers (IRC's) - RCA Globcom, ITT Worldcom and Western Union International had representation in London at the time and we saw their sales and engineering people on a pretty regular basis. I could see from our records that there was another carrier - PQ - but that they only had one client and I knew that we never or seldom saw anybody from their operation.
I have always been someone who was engaged by the curious or things that were out of the mainstream. So, when an order for a circuit nominating PQ as the carrier came in I grabbed the chance to get involved and find out a bit more about this fringe player in the market and that's when I met George Sharp.
George was the Traffic Manager of PQ in London at the time and I think that it was largely through his energy and vision that the operation moved from being something of an anachronism and an 'also- ran' to being a contender to be ranked with the other IRC's. It had been George who had prospected and won the business of PQ's only leased line client at that time - a commodity broker, C Czarnikow, who had taken a 50 baud full character rate circuit. Now a further order for a quarter character rate telegraph circuit from a US stockbroker, F S Smithers had been secured.
I managed the Post Office end of engineering the circuit and got to know George and PQ quite well. In particular I found out that contrary to popular belief the name PQ did not signify the Paris-Quebec cable company - nor the 'Pretty Quick' Cable Co or other less savoury appellations - but was in fact in tribute to Augustin Thomas Pouyer-Quertier who had been among the investors in the original France-US telegraph cable.
At this time PQ had just moved to new premises at 52/53 Fetter Lane, which was on the edge of the City of London and just off Fleet Street, which was still the heart of London's newspaper district at the time. Formerly the company had been operating for many years from quite cramped quarters in the Royal Exchange. The new building offered a lot more space over three floors and included a basement area that proved particularly useful and relevant as things developed. On the ground floor the cablegram operation had been set up, with numerous telex machines, a phone room and a duplex fifty baud telegraph link to FTCC New York equipped with Siemens T100 teleprinters.
I got a strong message from what I saw at PQ that here were some people who were trying make something exciting happen and I decided that I wanted to be part of it. I'm sure it wasn't quite as clear-cut as that at the time - but cut me some slack for the benefit of hindsight here! Anyway I sold George on the idea that I could bring something to what was happening - George sold the idea to a few others and I joined PQ, working for George as his technical sales person.
It was just before joining PQ that I made my one and only visit to FTCC New York - to the 25 Broad Street offices. I had already planned to make my first trip to US and the time between jobs seemed like an ideal opportunity to spend several weeks riding on Greyhound buses and seeing the country on $5 per day. At the end of a trip that took in Washington, Daytona Beach, New Orleans, San Francisco and Chicago and found me sleeping on a lot of those buses to save hotel costs I fetched up in New York to visit with my new American colleagues.
The first person I met was the Company Secretary - Julius Wiesel, who was a real gentleman and treated me royally. I shall always remember going to Jack Dempsey's on Time Square, meeting the great man himself and having my first square meal in days. Julius was an interesting character - originally from Austria, he had, at one time, been inspector of schools in Papa Doc Duvalier's Haiti!
The next day I met a host of people who were responsible for running FTCC at that time. Lou Giacalone, I remember was head of engineering - Jean Gauvard ran the technical operations. Then I met up with salesman Dick Rettus (who I think I recognise from the 1982 Christmas photo's) and his recently joined colleague Joe Uptegrove.
Back in London George Sharp and I started out on our five-year business relationship. I learned an awful lot from George - lessons that have helped me significantly in life and professionally and that I still rely on today. George had a host of contacts and was very well regarded throughout the business community. He was very committed to PQ and fiercely defensive of the firm's reputation and achievements. I am certain that without his influence the significant development of PQ that did take place just would not have happened.
At this time we achieved another landmark by completing the installation of the first UK-US voice grade data circuit routed via FTCC. The customer - IBM - already had a very close relationship with FTCC in New York and Paris and while PQ benefited from this in gaining the business, we had to face up to serious challenges in delivering ongoing service and building and retaining the goodwill of the UK based IBMer's.
We were soon joined by John Dabson who became our Engineering Manager and set up the engineering workshop in the basement of the building. John was a fine, intuitive engineer - equally at home with electronics and electro-mechanical devices - remember this was still the age of the teletype. Later on still Nick Harris joined from the Post Office to strengthen the engineering group (some time afterwards Nick moved on to sales management at PQ. I'm still in touch with him and maybe can get him to contribute his recollections to this site).
We started to offer engineering services and equipment and aimed to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the market by offering a line of French manufactured equipment. Principally we offered a range of SAGEM teleprinters, the Transtel (later Extel) miniprinter and the SECMAT S+Dx frequency division multiplexer. We had to be flexible however and over time our installed base included M28 Teletypes, Pulsecom selectors, Racal TDM's and modems.
And the clients started to come, among them Paine Webber and Donaldson Lufkin and Jenrette (Stockbrokers), Massey Ferguson (Farm and Construction Equipment Manufacture), Continental Grain and Kanematsu-Gosho (Commodities and Trading) and Godsell (Money brokers).
Throughout this time we received a vast amount of support from our colleagues in the Paris office. From a sales perspective we were always pleased to welcome to London Gerard Cusson (who I also think I recognise from the 1982 photos) and his colleague Bob Hily. From the engineering side we received invaluable support from Germain Abgrail and M. Molinier the Head of the Bureau des Cables et Radio (BCR). From management we saw, particularly, Raphael Treglos (who later replaced Mr Berenger as Station Head in NY).
Of course other areas of PQ, outside of the engineering and leased line operation, were also being developed and key contributors existed in these areas too. In particular David Edwards (known as Stan Edwards) was a highly competent and practical manager of the cablegram operation. He is also notable for his efforts in setting up the PQ Telesystemes operation to leverage the extensive telegraph operations skills available within PQ by offering an overload facility to hard-pressed telex rooms around the City.
A major issue we did encounter throughout my time at PQ was the fact that no mutual VF Telegraph system was in place between FTCC and UK Post Office. In order to provide leased telegraph circuits we were forced to rely on an arrangement with ITT/Commercial Cable Co whereby we could sub-lease channels on that company's bearers. Not a great solution since the ITT representatives were not beneath contacting our clients with the news that in fact they were not routing 'via French' at all and trying to poach the client. Similarly, of course, we were denied a share of lucrative westbound telex traffic.
Of course, a major effort was expended by PQ's UK management (Walter Page - Head of Station, Derek Ralph, George Sharp etc), our NY and Paris colleagues to persuade the UK authorities to provide a mutual VFT system and towards the end of 1977 (I believe) agreement to implement the facility was at last concluded.
As for me - after 5 years I had formed the view that my career should be developed in the field of telecoms management and at Christmas 1977 I left PQ for a career path that has since taken in Logica, Xerox, Visa and Citibank.
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