Nokia’s history spans nearly a century and a half, and it is the story of how a Finnish paper mill emerged as a global leader in telecommunications. Fredrik Idestam, a mining engineer, founded his first paper mill in south-western Finland’s Tammerkoski Rapids in 1865. Then, in 1868, he constructed a second paper mill along the Nokianvirta River. This river served as the inspiration for the name of the Nokia Company, which Idestam founded with the assistance of Leo Mechelin, his personal friend.
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At the turn of the 20th century, the company was set for major expansion. When Idestam retired from the company’s management in 1896, Mechelin began planning to expand the scope of the company’s activities to include the generation of electric power. Around the same time, Finnish Rubber Works built a factory near the Nokia paper mill, and the producer of rubber products began to use the Nokia brand. In 1912, the foundation of Finnish Cable Works saw to the production of Nokia’s electrical, telegraph and telephone cables. Together, these three companies were ideally suited to lead developments in telecommunications.
However, Nokia was close to bankruptcy following World War I. For the sake of securing its supply of electrical power, Finnish Rubber Works acquired Nokia. Then, in 1922, Finnish Rubber Works bought out Finnish Cable Works. From 1922 until 1967, the three companies were jointly owned. Then, they were merged to form the Nokia Corporation.
Until the 1990s, the Nokia Corporation was involved in numerous pursuits. The company produced paper, tires, rubber galoshes, consumer electronics, aluminium, plastic products, gas masks, personal computers, televisions and communications cables. At the start of the 1990s, however, the company decided to focus on telecommunications, and many of the individual production units of the company were sold off to operate as independent entities, such as Nokian Tyres and Nokian Footwear. By the end of the decade, Nokia had made telecommunications its only business.
Streamlining its activities to telecommunications proved successful, and it allowed the company to focus its resources to meet the growing demand for telecommunications products. As mobile phones grew in popularity throughout the world, Nokia’s position as the largest producer of mobile phones was secure and immensely profitable.
From paper to telephone wires and mobile phones, Nokia has had an incredible level of involvement in many areas of human communication. As the company continues to develop, it has a colourful history that it can rely on for inspiration.