The pioneering years

According to their own books, Ericsson delivered on 14 November 1878 their first telephones. The customer, Bredenbergs, paid 55 kr for a pair of magnet telephones with signal trumpets.
These telephones were direct copies of a somewhat updated magnet telephone from the German Siemens & Halske. The Siemens device was larger and more complicated than a Bell telephone and the previously mentioned experimental appliances. It contained a horseshoe magnet instead of a bar magnet. The design was more expensive but had an improved performance. Ericsson never kept it a secret that he made telephones following the German firm’s model.

As far as known, Ericsson manufactured at least 400 magnet telephones of this kind during the years 1878-1883. The design can mainly be attributed to two different models, one with a wooden cover and the other with a leather clad metal cover. Both models were very similar to the corresponding Siemens telephones.
In 1880, Ericsson designed a new microphone which came to be referred to as the spiral microphone and at the same time a smaller magnet telephone, suitable as a receiver, was introduced. Both of these fairly independent designs formed the basis of the telephones that the business produced during the first half of the 1880s.

As Ericsson only published his fist product catalogue in1886, the challenge today for us collectors and historians is to document the various models that had actually been made during the pioneering years. The catalogue includes images of a desk telephone and a wall telephone but the development had already surpassed several telephone models that, at the time the catalogue was published, no longer were being produced.

Ericsson’s actual breakthrough as a telephone manufacturer took place in February 1881, when a newly founded telephone association in Gävle officially chose Ericsson telephones for its first network. Shortly thereafter, the telephone association in Bergen, Norway made the same choice. The business was thus already at this stage an export company.

The device ordered by the subscribers in Gävle was that which might be regarded as the firm’s first complete telephone. The wall telephone was equipped with a ringing bell, spiral microphone and receiver, as well as an in-built battery compartment. The model was galvanic (battery operated), i.e. without inductor.

Soon several new variations on the same concept followed, among others the firm’s first proper desk telephone, the so-called Lilly.
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