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Bell-Northern Software Research was formed in early 1977 as spin-off of Bell Canada and Northern Telcom to pursue "leading-edge software research and development".
It was created by taking some key software research projects from each of the two companies and moving them (and their staff) to quarters on the top two floors of 500 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. At its inception, the company consisted of about 100 people. John H. Aitchison was recruited from IBM to head the new company as President.
In January, 1981, B-NSR became the Toronto lab of Bell Northern Research.