History of the Telstra Research Laboratories

Video Clips
Audio Clips
Media Items
Staff Photos
Miscellaneous Items

Sidney Herbert Witt, founder of the Research Laboratories in 1923


Telstra and its predecessors, the PostMaster Generals Department and Telecom Australia, have pioneered the provision of many telecommunication services in Australia. Many would not have occurred without the ideas and assistance from staff at the Telstra Research Laboratories. Two notable pioneering efforts are the Digital Radio Concentrator System (DRCS) and the Priority™ One3 system. Both these systems are highlighted in the Introduction to the History of the Telstra Research Laboratories.


A chronological listing of Notable Events and Technical Achievements since the inception of the Research Laboratories in 1923.


Sidney Herbert Witt (1923-1945)
Eric Percival Wright (1945-1953)
Norman James McCay (1953-1960)
Leonard Michael Harris O.B.E. (1960-1964)
Percy Rollo Brett O.B.E. (1964-1975)
Edward F Sandbach (1975-1985)
Harry S Wragge (1985 -Dec 1992)
Ray Liggett (Dec 1992 - Sept 1993)
Bruno Sorrentino (Sept 1993 - Oct 1993)
James Park (Oct 1993 - March 1995)
Noel Teede (March 1995 - June 1995)
Graham Shepherd (June 1995 - Feb 1997)
Hugh Bradlow (Feb 1997 - June 2000)
Paul Kirton (June 2000 - June 2001)
Hugh Bradlow (July 2001 - Dec 2005)

Video Clips

None of the video or audio clips are available on any internet video/audio streaming service such as YouTube because many are long, may be copyright, controversial and the people shown in the clips or their relatives may get upset. The links below only provide details about the clip.

If you really want to see them, a set of 7 DVD size data discs is available at no cost The discs contain a copy of the internet site “History of the TRL Research Labs” including all the video and audio clips. For details on how to obtain the DVD's email me (address is on first page of www.coxhill.com)

Propagation Section (1966 and early 1970's) (8 videos)
Andre Domjan Lecture (1972)
Tomorrow is Now (1973)
Revolt of the Instruments (1973)
Open Days (1973)
1930's Electronic Laboratory (1973)
Training Annex (1974)
Digital Telephony in Australia (1978)
API Children's Christmas Parties (1978)
The Busy Ray (c1979/1980)
Rings Of Fire (1981)
Lightning Research (1983)
Caldermeade Construction (1983)
Engineering Equipment Section (1985)
ISDN Tutorial (1985)
Cockatoo Feeder Damage (1985)
Telecom and You (1986)
Rathdowne St Move (1986) (5 videos)
Hec Ruddell (1987)
The Telecom Report (1988) (8 videos)
Information Age (1989)
Recruitment (1989)
Telecom Today (1989)
Lightning Lab (1990)
Speaking Clock (1990)
Laserlink (1991)
IST Shutdown (1991)
Leap Second (1992)
Blattnerphone (1992)
Videophone (1992)
Antenna Calibrations (1992)
OATS Building Construction (1992)
Caldermeade (1993)
Telstra Song (1994)
Wombat & Cockatoo Damage (1994)
Multimedia Lab (1996)
Human Factors (1997)
Internet Fridge (1999ish)
Laboratories 75 Year (1999)
Lightning Lab Demonstration (2000)
Telstra Values (2000) (3 videos)
Testing New Technology (2000ish)
BigTV (2001)
Science In Schools project (2001)
Showcase Opening (2001)
TRL Seminars (2001) (15 Videos)
Interactive TV (2001 - 2003) (13 Videos)
TRL Seminars (2002) (38 Videos)
Catalyst featuring Geoff Huston (2002)
Various non-TRL (19??)
Lyrebird (2003)
80th Year Anniversary (2003) (4 videos)
Telstra/Samsung Announcement (2004)
Various TRL (2004)
(3 videos)
Various TRL Promotional Videos (2004)
(2 videos)
Various TRL (2003/04/05) (6 videos)
Telstra Innovations Promotion (2004)
Customer Focused Design (2004)
TTIP Conference (2004) ((11 Videos)
Telstra Promotion (2004)

Audio Clips

Albert Syler (1975) (why lasers won't work) (8 Mins)
iRadio Transmission #2 (2000) (5 audio tracks 1 Min, 21 Mins, 9 Mins, 10 Mins & 1 Min)
Hugh Bradlow on KissFm (2002) (21 Mins)
Telstra New Wave & Telstra Research Labs Collaboraton Pt 1 (2003) (03:53 Mins)
Telstra New Wave & Telstra Research Labs Collaboraton Pt 2 (2003) (06:32 Mins)
Hugh Bradlow at National Press Club (2006) (55 Mins)
See also TRL Christmas Carols below.


The Research Laboratories staff and equipment were accommodated in a variety of buildings over the years. From about 1940 to 1988, accommodation was scattered in buildings around the Melbourne Central Business District. In 1988, all of TRL was finally located on one site in Clayton. The History of Laboratories Accommodation over the years is detailed in this section.


The Research Laboratories have utilised a wide variety of Computing devices over the years. A brief History of Laboratories Computing is given in this section.


The Research Laboratories were a prolific source of publications. A brief History of Laboratories Publications is given in this section

Media Items

Media items about TRL.

Official Staff Photos
(click on photo for larger view)

Applied Science Branch (March 1987)
Switched Networks Branch (February 1992)
Telecommunication Science & Technology Branch (March 1995)
Networks Branch (May 1996)
Information Networking Section (June 1996)

Unofficial Staff Photos

Unofficial Staff Photos, Buildings & Equipment

Links to other Australian Telecommunication History Sites

Australasian Telephone Collectors Society
Historical Radio Society of Australia
Australian Computer Society
Victorian Telecommunications Museum Inc
Telecommunications and the Digital Economy (TelSoc)
Old Australian Telephones
Photographs and information about the Old Port Kembla Exchange
Photographs related to old Microwave Installations
That Exchange Project (A tribute to the craftsmanship of heritage telecommunications equipment, and an era when telephone exchanges were home to communities of people who spent their lives living and breathing with the equipment, so that the rest of us could be connected)
History of Telephone Communication

Miscellaneous Items

Memories of TRL Some memories from Rick Coxhill who worked at TRL for 39 years.
A Day in the Life of a Section Head Some stories from Gavan Rosman.
Skeletons in the Cupboard The dark side of TRL.
Tool Kit Numbers A 1968 list of staff and their Tool Kit Numbers. When a person joined the Laboratories, they were issued with a set of tools with a unique number engraved on the tool. Discontinued in the 1970's.
Chronicles of Trel Satirical look at events in TRL from 2001 to 2005. Only meaningful to those who worked at TRL since about 1990. The chronicles were supplied to me anonymously.
Keeping in Contact A mailing list/newsgroup to keep in contact with xTRLer's.
Madonna A tasteless posting to the aus.flame newsgroup in 1991 that nearly got the TRL internet connection cut off and resulted in internal newsgroup censorship.
The Big Walk The story and pictures of three intrepid staff who, on their first day at the new Clayton site in 1978, walked to Clayton from their old building in the Melbourne CBD carrying the old buildings name plate.
The Telecom Australia Research Laboratories Xmas Card
The Scientists Poster No 5 Featuring Albert Syler.
The TRL Christmas Carols
In 1991, and for a few years afterwards, a group of TRL staff sang Christmas carols to entertain the staff. Some recordings of the presentations are supplied here.
Copy of a plaque presented to TRL by NASA for technical assistance with the first moon landing
TRL Anecdotes. Anecdotes about TRL from "Alan", who worked in other areas of the PMG/Telecom.
Vale Fred Symons. An address presented by Peter Gerrand at Fred’s funeral.
Internal Telephone Directory. May 1983.
Internal Telephone Directory. May 2003.
List of Successful Technicians in Training 1967. Hand written list.
Technology Dispute Discussion Paper.
The technology dispute in the 1970's between unions and management was a bitter and protracted affair. This document discusses some of the issues. Don't know where this came from.
Historical Study Of Telecom And Its Antecedents. Some early history of Telecommunications in Tasmania (1981).
History of Telecom Australia Research Laboratories.
Early history of the Research Labs (1984)
Bibliography of History of Telecommunications in Australia (1980).
Web Services. Telstra poster (2000?).
PTTA Reference Book (1960). Conditions Of Employment As Contained In Public Service Act, Regulations, General Orders,. Public Service Board Instructions And Related Determinations.

Closure of TRL

TRL Closes TRL officially closed its operations in December 2005. About 80% of the staff accepted redundancies and the rest obtained positions in other areas of Telstra. Unofficially, the last light was turned off on 7th September 2007. The buildings were demolished a few years later.


Last updated: May 2017