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General Telephone and Electronics Corporation (GTE) was a U.S.-based telephone company during the days of the bell system. It was the largest independent company providing telephone services to large areas in the United States through their operating companies, and also operated in Canada with the help of its subsidiary companies. It was the holding company for many international and U.S. telephone companies. In 2000, Bell Atlantic merged with General Telephone and Electronics Corporation to become Verizon communications.
The history of GTE Corporation traces back to the 1920s with roots going even further back. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, it focused on telephone industry operations, but also manufactured industrial and electronic consumer devices. The conglomerate-styled business took part in diverse markets and manufactured a wide range of products for decades, which included products such as cutting tools, cameras, halogen automobile headlights, televisions, anti-missile defense systems and space frame systems. Until Donald C. Power became president of the company in 1950, the company was having modest growth. Donald acquired Automatic Electric company, a telephone device manufacturer, and later merged the company with Sylvania Electronics. These key acquisitions provided GTE the ability to manufacture electronic switching systems which are required by a telephone company. Except for California suburbs and Tampa, Florida, GTE provided phone service mostly to rural areas which were not served by AT&T. GTE also focused on manufacturing electronics equipment, often sophisticated, for the U.S. military. With the acquisition of Telenet in 1979, it entered the data processing field. In 1997,One of the earliest Internet service providers, BBN Planet was acquired by the company and the division was called GTE Internetworking. GTE Internetworking was later spun off into an independent company.
By the late '80s, General Telephone and Electronics Corporation was operating not only in the United States but in some 40-odd countries as well. The operations of the company spanned through the turbulent years from the industrial revolution to the beginning of the era of information technology.
On June 30, 2000 General Telephone and Electronics Corporation merged with Bell Atlantic and ceased to exist. The merged entity was named Verizon Communications. Some of the smaller GTE companies were either transferred into remaining ones or sold off. The GTE operating companies which were retained by Verizon are now called Verizon West division.