Our history

From telegraphy to 5G

Since 1881, KPN has been helping the Netherlands to progress with technological innovation. From the telegraph to 5G and from telephone operator to Internet of Things. This is the rich history of KPN.

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KPN milestones

The history of our company is closely linked to that of our country. Below you will find the most memorable moments from 1881 to date.

De Groote Club
The building on the right (with the tower) housed ‘De Groote Club’: the location from where the first telephone call in the Netherlands took place. The building was demolished around 1912.

1881
Establishment of the Administratie der Posterijen en Telegrafie

Establishment of the Administratie der Posterijen en Telegrafie (P and T), an independent organization funded by the Ministry of Water Management, Trade & Industry.

1893
Telegraph and Telephone Law

More and more Dutch people get a telephone connection following the introduction of the Telegraph and Telephone Law.

1904
75,000 subscribers

More than 75,000 subscribers are connected to the telephone network. The telephone operator establishes a connection.

1915

Standard mailbox in 1918
Standard letter box for automated emptying, as used in the Netherlands in 1918.

1918
Change of name

A new law gives P and T another name: Staatsbedrijf der Posterijen, Telegrafie en Telefonie (PTT).

1928
First telephone call

First telephone call with the Dutch East Indies. At 12,000 kilometers, the longest telephone connection in the world.

1929

Telephone kiosk on the Valeriusplein
The Netherlands gets acquainted with the telephone kiosk. In 1931, Amsterdam’s Valeriusplein had the honor of having the first telephone kiosk on a public road in the Netherlands, an automatic coin-operated device for local calls.

1931

Logo 1935 - 1945

1935
Telephone exchanges destroyed

One third of all automatic telephone exchanges were destroyed during World War Two: a capacity of almost 85,000 numbers.

1945
003

By dialing 003, callers can listen to an automated weather forecast from the KNMI via the telephone.

1953

Logo 1950 - 1957

1950
Subscribers increase

From the 1960s, the telephone becomes accessible to everyone. The number of subscribers doubles from 1 to 2 million.

1960

Historical moment
Minister Henk Korthals of Traffic and Water Management calls for the last time via a manually operated exchange. He gives the instruction to activate an automatic variant. On the left-hand side is Mr. G.H. Bast, Director-General of the PTT.

1962
T65

Launch of the iconic T65 phone. First gray, and then in other colors.

1965
Emergency phones

The first Dutch roadside emergency telephones are activated, between Hoevelaken and Zwolle. The emergency phones are a collaboration of the PTT, ANWB and Rijkswaterstaat.

1970
ATF-1 network

An important step on the way to mobile telephony: the introduction of the car phone, connected via the ATF-1 network.

1980
100th anniversary

On the 100th anniversary of telephony, there are 500 million telephone connections worldwide. Currently 5 million of these are in the Netherlands.

1981

Logo 1981 - 1989

1981
Standing on its own feet

On 1 January 1989, PTT got a new name: Koninklijke PTT Nederland NV, or KPN. This was the first step in the transition from state-owned company to full independence. The shares remained in the hands of the state, but from this date the organization itself was responsible for business operations. Wim Dik became Chairman of the Board of Management and was given the task of turning KPN into a commercial concern. PTT Post and PTT Telecom were the most important elements of KPN.

1989
1989

Greenpoint
From early on, KPN saw the enormous potential of mobile calling. Greenpoint was a network of 5,000 contact points located at, among others, post offices and gas stations.

1992
Internet

Internet makes its debut: for the first time, it’s possible to send messages via electronic post. Or: e-mail.

1993
GSM network

The first GSM network means that callers are now accessible all the time and everywhere via their mobile phone.

1994
KPN shares

KPN shares are issued on the Amsterdam stock exchange. This is followed by listings on the New York, London and Frankfurt exchanges. Since 2008, the stock is no longer internationally listed.

1994
Operation DeciBel

On 10 October (the ‘tenth of the tenth’) all telephone numbers become 10 digits. The large re-numbering campaign is called Operation DeciBel and is necessary in order to guarantee that sufficient telephone numbers can be created in the future.

1995
Nokia 9000 Communicator

The Nokia 9000 Communicator is one of the very first smartphones introduced to the Netherlands. Users can call, e-mail, surf the internet and fax.

1996
Hi

Introduction of the Hi brand, which is focused on young people and mobile telephony. It is a highly successful provider of mobile telephony for many years. It continues until 2015, and then becomes part of KPN.

1996
1998

Logo 1998 - 2006

1998
PTT Post and PTT Telecom separated

PTT Post and PTT Telecom go their separate ways. PTT Telecom then becomes known as KPN NV.

1998
XS4ALL

Internet provider XS4ALL becomes part of KPN. XS4ALL was started in 1993 as a pilot by the Dutch hackers organization Hack-Tic.

1998
'A mobile phone? No, I don’t need one'

It’s now become an iconic video in 1998, program maker Frans Bromet questioned people on the street about the usefulness of a mobile phone.

1998
Blackberry

With the introduction of the Blackberry, the growth of business data traffic via the smartphone explodes.

1999
Ad Scheepbouwer

Ad Scheepbouwer is appointed as new CEO with the mission to secure the future of KPN. A large-scale reorganization reduces debts and increases trust.

2001
Digitenne

KPN acquires a stake in Digitenne and now offers, in addition to telephone calls and internet, digital TV as well.

2004
The Olympic Games in Athens

The Olympic Games in Athens are an opportunity for a special experiment by KPN and the NOS: the images of the sporting event are made available via the internet.

2004
Experiment and innovate
2005
Telfort

Following the acquisition of Telfort KPN gains an additional 2 million customers.

2005

Interactive TV
In 2006, KPN introduced ‘Mine’, which quickly gets the name Interactive TV. From now on, subscribers are free to decide what and when they watch.

2006

Logo 2006 - present

2006
Launch of the first iPhone

The launch of the first iPhone by Apple’s Steve Jobs. It will be the definitive breakthrough of the smartphone among the general public.

2007
Getronics

With digitization, telephony and ICT increasingly converge. Telecommunication becomes data communication. Consequently, KPN acquires the ICT company Getronics in order to expand into a full-service ICT service provider.

2007
Launch of C2000

Launch of C2000, the system that enables all national emergency services to be connected with each other, all the time and everywhere.

2007

From calling to apps
With the advent of new communication devices, the street scene is also changing: we are now looking at our screens instead of calling.

2009
Cloud

KPN offers customers the possibility to save their data in the cloud. So no longer on a hard disk on the computer, but on servers in secure data centers.

2010
Eelco Blok

Eelco Blok succeeds Scheepbouwer as CEO.

2010
Fiber network

KPN expands its fiber network and at the same time improves its wide-ranging copper network in order to handle the rapidly growing data traffic.

2011
4G

KPN is the first Dutch provider of national 4G coverage, which facilitates the rapid sending of data.

2013
Voel je vrij

With a new commercial and strategy, KPN is forging a new path. The pay-off: ‘Voel je vrij’ (feel free).

2014
Climate neutral

Despite a structural increase in data traffic, KPN is able to reduce its energy consumption every year. In 2015, KPN becomes totally climate neutral.

2015
Innovation

With the creation of two new divisions, KPN Ventures and KPN Technology Labs, KPN is fully committed to innovation. On the one hand by investing in promising companies, on the other hand by developing new applications itself.

2015

Launch of LoRa
LoRa stands for: ‘long range low power’. With this, KPN is anticipating the growing number of devices that can communicate independently: the Internet of Things.

2015
Nationwide LoRa network

KPN's new LoRa network will be available throughout the Netherlands in June. This makes the Netherlands the first country in the world to have a nationwide LoRa network for Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

2016
1 million fixed-mobile customers

KPN has more than 1 million fixed-mobile customers in October. These are customers who combine at least one product for the home with a mobile subscription.

2016
Sponsor of the Year

KPN has been named Sponsor of the Year for the third time. The prize is awarded annually by the Sponsor Rings Foundation. The years of high-level structural sponsorship approach in the field of sport, art & culture and society are rewarded.

2016

World’s most sustainable telecom company
The Dow Jones Sustainability Index has proclaimed KPN the world’s most sustainable telecom company.

2017
10 years KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds

KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds has been providing solidarity for 10 years. Social contact is a necessity of life, but it is by no means self-evident for everyone.

2017
LTE-M

KPN completes range of IoT networks with LTE-M nationwide coverage and has now completed its IoT connectivity portfolio. In addition to the LoRa and M2M applications, which make use of the mobile networks, customers can now also use LTE-M, which is particularly suitable for allowing devices to interchange data very frequently in a cost-efficient manner.

2018
New CEO

Maximo Ibarra starts as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of KPN. He succeeds Eelco Blok, who held this position for 8 years.

2018
Global Cyberlympics

KPN maintains worldwide top position on Cyberlympics. The ethical hackers of KPN came third in the Global Cyberlympics final in Oshawa (Canada).

2018
KPN 5G Field Lab

Start of KPN's 5G Field Lab for automotive applications at the Automotive Campus in Helmond, as part of the European Concorda project. The possibilities of connected & automated driving are being tested.

2018

Modernization of KPN’s headquarters
The renovation and modernization of KPN’s headquarters in Rotterdam has been completed.

2018
New CEO - Joost Farwerck

KPN appoints Joost Farwerck as CEO and Chairman of the Board of Management. He succeeds Maximo Ibarra, who stepped down as CEO of KPN after 1 year.

2019
History of tomorrow

No one can predict the future. But KPN continues to work on new milestones, as we have been doing since 1881. Inventions that develop the Netherlands. In ‘The Technology Book’, we define the most important trends: from 5G to Blockchain.

Download The Technology Book

1881 Geschiedenis KPN De Groote Club2

‘I’ll connect you’

Several years after Alexander Bell applied for a patent on the telephone in 1876, the invention reached the Netherlands. On 1 June 1881, the first public telephone network in the Netherlands became operational in Amsterdam. In the attic of the ‘De Groote Club’ society, on the corner of the Kalverstraat and the Dam, a telephone operator from the Nederlandsche Bell-Telephoon Maatschappij (NBTM) connected the 49 subscribers to each other. ‘I’ll connect you’ were the legendary words of the first telephone call in the Netherlands.

Several years later, in 1888, the NBTM established the first long distance connection in the Netherlands, between Amsterdam and Haarlem. The first steps on the way to a widespread network.

1931 Geschiedenis Eerste Telefooncel2

Not the famous green

The telephone kiosk on the Valeriusplein did not yet have the famous green color; that was only introduced in 1965. Around the year of 2000 there were some 20,000 telephone kiosks in our country. In January 2011, KPN announced that it would discontinue operation of public telephone kiosks.

1962 Geschiedenis KPN Historisch Moment2

Minister bids farewell to the telephone operator

Warffum was the last municipality in the Netherlands to be connected to a fully automated telephone network. From this date, all callers could establish the right connection using the dial on their telephone. It meant the end of the telephone operator in telephone exchanges. At the peak, around 1930, there were more than 2,000 telephone operators manually connecting all the calls in the Netherlands.

1992 Kermit

Calling with Kermit

With a special telephone, the Greenhopper, subscribers could make mobile calls at these locations. Greenpoint was designed as a cheap alternative to the expensive carphone network. Initially, the striking Greenhopper was called Kermit, after Kermit the Frog. In 1996, Greenpoint had 60,000 subscribers. With the advent of GSM, Greenpoint became obsolete. KPN discontinued this network in 1999.

Iconic video

Without exception those interviewed answered that existing means of communication – landline telephone, answerphone, letter – were more than sufficient.

It is difficult to comprehend that at that moment we were on the eve of a mobile revolution: in 1998 there were 3 million mobile connections, 10 years later this was 20 million.

Watch video

2005 i Mode

KPN leading in digital innovations

At the start of the 21st century, KPN is leading the way in digital innovations. For example, the Netherlands is the first country in Europe to experiment with i-mode, an early generation mobile internet. KPN also looks into new features such as watching TV via your mobile phone. Many firsts follow: Catch-up TV (2006), Live pausing (2010), watching online TV anywhere via Play (2015) and contactless mobile payments (2016).

2006 Zelf Beslissen

Now the viewer decides

In addition to a large number of digital channels, customers can also simply record programs. What’s more, customers are given Catch-up TV, an Electronic Program Guide and access to On Demand films. Since its introduction, KPN continues to add services to Interactive TV, such as apps, Netflix and viewing via telephone or tablet.

2009 Van Bellen Naar Appen

From calling to apps

Consumers are increasingly connected to each other 24/7. Lots of free programs are introduced onto the market, such as WhatsApp in 2009. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter also grow into popular forms of communication. As a result, the numbers of calls and SMSs sent decrease sharply; meanwhile data traffic grows massively. Even more because tablets and smartphones are rapidly taken over the Netherlands.

2015 Pratende apparaten

Talking devices

Via this technology, it is, for example, possible to see which garbage containers are full and need to be emptied. And it can help vets check the health of cows remotely. In this way, LoRa makes it possible for a large number of places to work faster and work smarter.

2017 KPN MCF

10 jaar KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds

The KPN Mooiste Contact Fonds has been bringing lonely people back in touch with their environment by impactful projects and the deployment of people, resources and technology from KPN.

2018 link

The Link

The striking tower of architect Renzo Piano at the bottom of the Erasmus Bridge on the Kop van Zuid will be named The Link, a reference to the connection that is central to KPN’s services.