Photo: Jaakko Savolainen

Pekka Tarjanne

Director General 1977–1989

Pekka Tarjanne (1937–2010), D.Sc. (Tech.), was one of Finland's best-known politicians. He was the Chairman of the Liberal People's Party between 1968 and 1978, Member of Parliament in 1970–1977 and Minister for Transport in 1972–1975. There was much debate about his political appointment to the post; however, it differed from other political appointments in that Tarjanne knew the post and telegraph business, having been Minister for Transport. Tarjanne transformed postal operations. During his time in the position, the Post and Telegraph aimed to enhance productivity, maintain service levels and decentralise the power of decision. He received a lot of negative criticism concerning the teething problems experienced at the new sorting centre in Pasila. Tarjanne was actively involved in social debate and was never afraid of publicity. Tarjanne later joined the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as the Union's Secretary-General.

Tarjanne worked as a researcher and politician before his career at the Post. The son of a diplomatic family, he passed his matriculation exam with the best grades in 1955. Five years later, he achieved a Master of Science degree, and a doctorate at the age of 24. He became a lecturer at the University of Helsinki in 1964, professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oulu in 1965 and professor of theoretical physics at the University of Helsinki in 1967.

Postal History in Finland

  • The Post was in a dire financial situation, and its operations were streamlined considerably.
  • The civil service-like operations were replaced by a more business-like management, and the director ran the organisation as if it was a private enterprise.
  • The Post's visual image was modernised while the old bureaucratic structure was being demolished.
  • The number of post offices was reduced.
  • Pasila sorting centre was completed in 1979.
  • New technology was put to effective use.
  • Coders were a new group of employees.
  • New products: postal letter in 1981, packaging supplies in 1984, audio-letter in 1986 and private postal stationary in 1988.
  • The Post was the first organisation in the world to introduce an EDI application in 1984. The eLetter is a combination of a traditional invoice and an e-invoice.
  • The domestic letter delivery system was reorganised in 1984. 1st and 2nd class letters were launched.
  • An X-ray device was installed at Pasila postal centre to inspect incoming mail in 1987.
  • The first electric car, Finnvan, in 1987.
  • Keltainen Kuljetus for parcel distribution was launched in 1987.
  • EMS, Express Mail Service for overseas deliveries launched in 1987.
  • The Post was actively involved in projects to improve postal services in developing countries.
  • The Post celebrated its 350 year anniversary in 1988.
  • Post and Telecommunication became a state-owned enterprise at the beginning of 1989.
  • 1,864 million items delivered in 1985 (805 million newspapers).
  • Number of international deliveries: 97.2 million in 1975 and 89.6 million in 1980.
  • 3,468 postal outlets in 1985, 1,168 of which were post offices.
  • Only five pairs of post coaches operated in the 1980s, and the last one between Helsinki and Rovaniemi in 1995.
  • Staff: 45,550 in 1980 and 45,729 in 1985.


  • Strong economic boom.
  • Hobbies became more diverse, for example, ski resorts were popular.
  • The first Vietnamese refugees, 'boat people', arrived in 1979.
  • Lotto, the national lottery, was restructured. Seven numbers instead of six were required to win the jackpot in 1980.
  • F1 driver Keke Rosberg became the first Finnish driver to win a F1 race at the Swiss Grand Prix in 1982.
  • The 1984 Winter Olympic Games held in Sarajevo. Marja-Liisa Kirvesniemi won three gold medals. Matti Nykänen won a gold and a silver medal in ski jumping.
  • The Seinäjoki Tango Festival first held in 1985. Kauko Simonen from Rovaniemi won the competition.
  • Women were ordained as priests (94) for the first time in 1988.
  • Presidents of Finland: U.K. Kekkonen (Agrarian Party) 1956–82, Mauno Koivisto (Social Democratic Party) 1982–94.
  • Population 4.9 million in 1985.
  • Population 4.7 million in 1975.

Global Events

  • Computers and electronics emerge: the IBM PC was launched in 1981, and people started using personal computers at home. The mobile phone (NMT) and CD-ROM were introduced to the market.
  • Time Magazine's Man of the Year 1982 was the personal computer.
  • ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, USA) officially switched to the Internet protocol; the Internet created in 1983.
  • Michael Jackson performed the moonwalk for the first time in 1983.
  • Astronauts Musgrave and Peterson conducted the first spacewalk outside a shuttle (4 hours and 10 minutes) in 1983.
  • Titanic's wreck was discovered in 1985.
  • Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet leader in 1985.
  • The Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, was shot in 1986.
  • The Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986.