August Strindberg, 1849-1912, Swedish author

From a technological point of view, 1883 was an eventful year in Stockholm. Electric lighting began to make serious inroads. Two stations were established, for example, for arc lighting, one for Slussen and Skeppsbrön, “to the great benefit of the work going on there”, and the other for Karla-vägen. This light was so intense in comparison with the contemporary gaslights and oil lamps that “it was possible to see the facades of buildings up to the fifth floor without any difficulty”.

Another sensation was the steam-powered lift at Katarina that opened in March 1883 and made it easier for people to get to and from hilly Södermalm. A third sensation was an amusement park, Gröna Lund, which opened on a vacant site on the outskirts of Stockholm and offered diversions such as horse-drawn roundabouts.

In 1883, two new “genius industries” were founded: Elektriska Aktiebolaget in Stockholm, the forerunner of ASEA, based on the dynamo construction developed by Jonas Wenström (manufacture initially took place in Arboga); and AB Separator, based on the centrifugal separator invented by Gustaf de Laval a few years earlier. Its factory was built on Fleminggatan in Stockholm.

This was also the year August Strindberg went into exile. The novelist and playwright had been made bankrupt four years earlier but at the same time attained fame and notoriety for Röda Rummet, his novel on contemporary Stockholm. In 1882, he left his post at the Royal Library to devote himself to writing about cultural history. When he returned to Sweden in 1889, Sweden had picked up the phone, and the device was to play an important role in his life as well as his works.

Strindberg missed, however, the premiere of the first Swedish play in which the telephone played a leading role. It took place at Dramaten, Sweden’s Royal Dramatic Theater, in the spring of 1887; the playwright Victoria Benedictsson gave it the eloquent title On the Telephone.


Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

Telephone call, theater play, 1896

Telephone call, theater play, 1896

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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