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ABB is the product of many acquisitions and mergers, but primarily the 1988 coming together of ASEA of Sweden and Switzerland's BBC, formerly known as Brown Boveri, two of the proudest and best known names in European electrical engineering history. In subsequent years, the combined business, which once included products as diverse as turbines and railway engines, was streamlined to focus on today's priorities of power and automation.


ABB successfully designs and develops a hybrid DC breaker suitable for the creation of large inter-regional DC grids. This breakthrough solves a technical challenge that has been left unresolved for over a hundred years and was perhaps one of the main influencers in the 'war of currents'.


ABB links the Xiangjiaba hydropower plant in southwest China to Shanghai about 2,000 km (kilometers) away
with an UHVDC (ultrahigh-voltage direct current) connection with a capacity of ±800 kV (kilovolt)
and 7,200 MW (megawatt) of power.


NorNed, the longest submarine HVDC cable in the world at 580 km, links the power networks of Norway and the Netherlands with a transmission capacity of 700 MW.


ABB delivers electricity through a DC (direct current) link originating 70 km away on land to a gas platform in the North Sea, helping avoid annual emissions of 230,000 tons of CO2 and 230 tons of NOX.


ABB launches its Extended Automation System 800xA providing a process automation system that has since been installed at thousands of medium to large process plants in the Oil & Gas, Chemical, Pulp & Paper, Metals, Mining and Life Sciences industries delivering continuous productivity improvements.


ABB links the AC (alternating current) networks of South Australia and Victoria with the world’s longest underground transmission, a 177 km HVDC Light cable with a capacity of 220 MW. ABB also linked Conneticut and Long Island with the world’s first extruded HVDC submarine transmission, a 40 km HVDC Light cable with a power rating of 330 MW.


ABB delivers world’s first commercial high-voltage shore-to-ship electric power, helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships berthed at the Swedish port of Gothenburg.


ABB launches the FlexPicker, a delta robot uniquely designed for the picking and packing industry.


ABB launches Azipod, a family of electric propulsion systems that are fixed to the outside of ships providing both thrust and stearing functions. They increase maneuverability, efficiency and the space available on board.


ASEA and BBC merge to form the new company, with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The new group, which started operations on Jan. 5, 1988, had revenues of $17 billion and employed 160,000 people around the world.




ASEA employs 71,000 people and reported revenues of $6.8 billion and income after financial items of $370 million.


BBC employs 97,000 people and reported revenues of $8.5 billion and an income after financial items of $132 million.


Installation of the first of nine BBC generators in the world’s largest hydroelectric power station at Itaipú in South America.


ASEA launches one of the first industrial robots.


BBC starts production of bipolar semiconductors at its dedicated Lenzburg semiconductor facility.


ASEA builds the first nuclear power plant in Sweden and goes on to build nine of the country’s 12 reactors.


BBC builds the most powerful transformer in the world at 1,300 MVA (megavolt ampere).


BBC develops the first gearless cement drive in the world.


BBC builds the first 110 kV GIS (gas-insulated switchgear) allowing circuit breakers to operate safely in a confined space.


ASEA achieves a major technological breakthrough with the introduction of an improved thyristor able to handle substantially more electrical current than existing devices.


ASEA installs the world’s first HVDC transmission line, providing 20 MW, 100 kV to the Isle of Gotland over a distance of 96 km.


ASEA is the first company in the world to manufacture synthetic diamonds.


The first data transmission at carrier frequency is performed by BBC over a 735 kV high-voltage line to the power station control unit.


ASEA designs and installs the first 400 kV AC cable – a 70 m low pressure oil-filled (LPOF) cable connecting an underground power station (built to withstand an atomic bomb) to the Swedish grid.


BBC develops the first high-speed locomotive with drive shafts fitted exclusively in bogies.


BBC builds the first 110 kV high-speed air blast circuit breaker.


ASEA builds the world's first 120 MVA, 220 kV transformer in the Stockholm Elverks Värtanstation.


BBC builds the first combustion gas turbine for generating electricity.


BBC obtains the patent for turbine rotors constructed from individual steel disks that are welded together.


ASEA builds the world’s largest self-cooling transformer rated at 2,500 kVA (kilovolt ampere).


ASEA supplies locomotives and power converters for the new Stockholm to Gothenburg railway.


BBC builds the first steam turbine in Europe.


ASEA builds the first three-phase transmission system in Sweden.


Brown Boveri supplies Europe’s first large-scale combined heat and power plant producing alternating current.


Charles E. L. Brown and Walter Boveri establish Brown, Boveri & Cie in Baden, Switzerland. Shortly afterward, Brown, Boveri is the first company to transmit high-voltage power.


Elektriska Aktiebolaget merges with Wenströms & Granströms Elektriska Kraftbolag to form Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget, later shortened to ASEA.


Jonas Wenström invents the three phase system for generators, transformers and motors.


Ludvig Fredholm establishes Elektriska Aktiebolaget in Stockholm as manufacturers of electrical lighting and generators.

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