Telefonen - En Design Historia
Many thanks to Inger Hedén in Sweden for his
efforts in translating this for the web site.
This translation is from a new book in Sweden on
the history of telephone design in Sweden. This section of the book deals with the
developement of the Ericofon.
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A little more than
three years later, the 4th of September 1953, the first Ericofon is
standing on the table at the photographer for the first of innumerable shots. The white
apparatus is made out of test-units i e the first pieces made from the new
die, produced for measuring and approval. The road here has been long and wearisome.
Partly new components have been created, the cover has been adjusted and the apparatus has
been thoroughly tested in advanced acoustic laboratories and in mechanical long time
tests. The sales department has had their say, final drawings have been made as well as
dies and tools for production.
That the new
telephone is to be form-sprayed is something that seems to have been agreed on early on.
The ABS-plastic is developed at exactly the right time and is to have been used already
for the first small test series in 1954. At the earliest during this year, the name of the
phone is changed to Ericofon. The attempts to register the trade mark Erifon
has not succeeded, among other reasons because it is thought that the name does not differ
enough from the Ediphone, long since the registered name of Ericssons dictating machine.
The goal of the
new one-piece telephone during the whole time of the project has been that it must not
weigh more than the standard earpiece of the bakelite phones. This is achieved with a
margin. The Ericofon weighs in at 400 gram, which means it is 20 % lighter than the
bakelite piece. In order to achieve this the easily dismantled plastic cover is affixed to
a chassis made of an aluminium alloy and the ringer is placed in a separate wall box.
1956 is the year
the production really gets going after the main responsibility for the Ericofon DBJ 500
(Swedish designation) is moved to the LME factory in Karlskrona. By then the sales are
exploding and after six months the production capacity is filled to 500 %, in spite of
almost no marketing work. The plastic details are form-sprayed at AB Alpha in Sundbyberg
(a suburb to Stockholm) (AB means Ltd Company in Swedish) at first made up of two
mirrored halves that are sent to Karlskrona to be glued together and final assembly. After
that a further series of holes are drilled for the microphone.
To meet the
demands in 1960, production is simplified by getting the means of being able to form spray
the Ericofon in one piece only. According to Gösta Thames this means that the grip must
be made more bent. To increase sending capacity, the grip is also shortened. A little
later the Ericofon is equipped with a thicker telephone lid (earpiece). The reason for
this is that the microphone then is placed further from the mouth, which is both more
comfortable and more hygienic. The Ericofon is manufactured until 1982 at the Karlskrona
factory, all in all 2,510,000 units, including detailed sets for foreign assembly. Only
about 20 % of the production reaches the Swedish domestic market.
extract: When reports from various telephone company evaluations reaches Ericsson towards
the end of the 50s the Ericofon is changed and improved. When the cover is moulded
as one piece, the height is reduced from 23,3 cm to 21 cm. Mainly women employees are
engaged in Karlskrona, something that is appreciated in the dominantly Navy town.
By the Ericofon
colours are introduced for the first time in the Swedish net. The Ericofon is however not
approved of in the original construction until 1957, when it is accepted as a side-piece.
1959 it has been equipped with a socket and a jacket/plug and new construction for
ringer and is finally approved of as a full and worthy member of the Swedish State Tele
monopoly equipment. Up until the Tele people were formally bombarded with applications to
allow it to be connected in the homes of mostly architects and managers.
The Tele authorities in Sweden were very cautious
and everything moved at a snails pace. As a security measure at the time of the
introduction of the Ericofon, a consumers research was made by questioning and
handing out Ericofons to 1,000 customers. Practically all of these wanted to exchange
their old black bakelite phone at the end of the test period for a Cobra. Colour
preferences were very clear as well and consistent with a larger research that AT&T
had just completed for the Bell equipment. In this 40 % of the customers wanted an ivory
white telephone, whereas the Swedes wanted white in 80 % of the cases. The more even
spread of the American tests were to influence the choice of colour range in Sweden as
The Americans could get the Ericofon in 18 colours,
but the Swedes only in five. These latter are also the standard colour range for Ericsson
outside of Sweden . Altogether the American Ericofon specialist Richard Rose estimates
that this remarkable phone has been produced in about 30 colours at Ericssons factories
all over the world.
design of the Ericofon does not look like anything earlier seen in telephone ranges. It is
best characterized by Hans Blomberg in the comprehensive presentation in Ericsson Review
1956: Out of the powerful foot piece the slender Ericofon grip shoots upwards, as if
listening and ready for action. It is probably this kind of quotation that have
caused the Swedes to nickname the phone The Cobra (KOBRAN).
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