Category Archives: history

A Warning from the Sun

At this moment it is cold in The Netherlands as it is mid winter. Nevertheless there is a message from a very sunny part of our kingdom below: Curaçao.

In the newspaper Amigoe of December 12th 1986 I have found this advertisement. An Ericofon 700 as an end year offer for half the price; available in the colors orange, blue, white and green (not in brown, to make the series complete).

Remarkable detail is that the Ericofon 700 was never sold in The Netherlands nor in the US, but Curaçao is part of the Dutch kingdom and very close to and oriented towards the US. Obviously the telecom operator at that time, Setel, still marketed this model on the small island with ~150K inhabitants at that time.

Stealing The Words

Let’s talk about the color pink.

First of all we have 4 different colors of pink: Dusty Rose, Riviera, Princess Pink and Petal Pink. There is an interesting story on the latter two, Princess and Petal Pink.

Princess Pink (left) and Petal Pink (right)

In the beginning there was a color named Princess Pink. It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, but no prince is expected to drop in here. And it does not turn out too good in the end for this this American princess. The color palette in the USA, where she was part of, consisted of 18 different colors as you can see in this previous post. Petal Pink did not yet exist at this time.

In the early 1960’s (~1961) it was decided that North Electric could produce all Ericofons for the US market. One year before (~1960) the New Case was introduced. At this time it was also decided that the US color palette was to be reduced from 18 to 8 colors. Ten colors disappeared but Princess Pink was swapped out by her new rival Petal Pink. Petal even stole Princess’ color code (520541). This code is now applicable for both colors…

There could be different reasons for this swap of pink that took place. Maybe the Princess Pink was not such a popular color. This is most likely also the reason of 10 colors disappearing. Or it was to avoid confusion with the Bell System “Princess phone” marketed by Western Electric, which was getting popular as well at that time.

So the result of this story is that the following models are available: Petal Pink in only New Case (both, flat and wedge). There was never an Old Case produced as the swap was done the moment new cases already existed. Princess Pink exists in all 3 cases. But the New Case (wedge) not from US production, only from other markets (e.g. Sweden). From both colors there is also a Touch Tone version available.

If you ask me, my favorite is the Princess. Petal is the bad stepmother.

Colour Oblivion

The poster below is kind of legendary. It reflects the North Electric color palette that was marketed by North Electric in the heyday of the Ericofon in the United States. The color palette in other countries was much more limited.

As you can see the 18 different colors are all old cases. In a later stage this model was replaced by a new case shell. But not all colors survived this change in the United States as the palette was reduced to 8 colors. E.g. the Charcoal only exists in old case. Princess Pink was replaced with Petal Pink in the United States but survived outside in various models.

Some other colors survived the first new case, but not the second e.g. Nordic Blue, Dusty Rose, Chartreuse, Accent Green, Riviera and Royal Dubonnet.

Departed

The godfathers of the Ericofon…

Gösta Thames (1916 – 2006): was the highest technical manager in Ericsson. He took Lysell on board in 1939 and in the late 1940’s he was the leader of the design team for the Ericofon.

Ralph Lysell (1907 – 1987) is one of the true pioneers in Swedish industrial design. He was engaged in 1939 in the design process but left Ericsson in 1949. He was still involved after 1949 in the Ericofon design as he was a master in clay modelling.

Hugo Blomberg (1897 – 1994) was in charge of the Ericofons technical development as of 1949. Hired Lysell as a freelance designer for his extraordinary design skills.

March Of Time II

As I already showed some time ago in an older post, there is a stamp that has the Ericofon on it. Recently I was able to get a first day cover of this stamp from 1999. It is a nice to have, and worth sharing here, but not something really special.

1999 First Day Cover

Something more special, and with a bit more history is the first day cover below. This one I like a lot.

1962 First Day Cover

This envelop, with the Ericofon as an image on the envelope itself, was send in December 1962 from Tunesia to Sweden. So the First Day Cover is in fact about the series of stamps on the envelope. But…

…the receiver of the envelope was the General Director of the Swedish Post Office between 1947 and 1964, Erik Swartling.

The sender must be Ericsson Tunesia. Actually I did not open the envelope, as it is sealed, but inside there is a note with some text that you can read if you keep it against the light. It says “Good Wishes For The Next Year” and “Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson”. It also shows the LM Ericsson logo on the note inside. Unfortunately I am not able to read more of the note…

I really have to control myself not opening it. But as Erik obviously never opened it, who am I to do so… ?

Things Happen

These are quite a bunch of very very rare Ericofons you see here. Unfortunately they are not mine. 🙁 I am not aware of the origin of these picture, but if it is your set of Ericofons, please contact me, as I found them on social media.

These are so called ‘swirl’ types. They were never officially produced. But they were obviously the result of moving from one color to another in the production process.

It seems that when they were producing red Ericofons for instance, and they wanted to start producing whites, the colors could mix in the machine. A few models would have these effects during that switch. Usually they were thrown away, but I am pretty sure that these phone were so cool that you just had to smuggle them out.

What I find strange, is that the cap also has the same effect. I always thought the caps would be produced separately. Or… they just produced both more or less in the same production line, at the same time. Or… they had to look for a cap somewhere… I don’t know.

They are gorgeous!

Cathedral in Flames

On September 11th 2015 the JKL museum (aka American Museum of Telephony) in Butte, California, USA was hit by a forest fire and got destroyed. Everything in the collection unfortunately disappeared in the flames. The picture below (courtesy of JKL Museum) shows the havoc.

Almost immediately after the damage was done, they started rebuilding their museum and a new collection. What was achieved in the past years is incredible. If you visit their website you can see what was done. Not only the building, but especially the extensive collection they have today is amazing.

JKL Museum… it’s strange to name your museum after the letters under the 5 in the dial. But the name comes from the main benefactor, John K. La Rue. Makes sense now.

And of course they have a couple of, I spotted 9, Ericofons as well. I noticed this Persian Grey manual Ericofon that I provided to the museum already back in 2016, a few months after the fire. They even have the 700 Gold Centenary, which took me ages to find 😉 It is really impressive to see what they have when you take the virtual tour through their space.

Cardinal Points

As the Ericofon was introduced into production in 1956, it seems that within the organization it was an important achievement. Hereunder you will see the covers of the Ericsson annual reports from 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1960.

Again in 1975 the Ericofon was on the report, this time the 700 type in gold with the black ear-piece because of its centennial.

Unnatural History

Taken from “LM Ericsson 1876-18976 – The first 100 years”

This week I got 2 nice magazines from the 70’s-80’s. From one of them, an official Ericsson release, I have taken a snapshot of the highlights of year 1956. This year 65 years ago, but no retirement for this fellow.

The model showed in the image is obviously not from 1956 😉 See in the tab timeline the timing of the ‘wedge’ type.