His own workshop

The first logotype of LM Ericsson & Co.
The first logotype of LM Ericsson & Co.

Lars Magnus Ericsson opened his own business together with his friend Carl Johan Andersson on April 1, 1876, trading under the name of Firma L.M. Ericsson & Co., described in the register as a “mechanical workshop enterprise”. Lars Magnus acquired the company’s initial capital through a loan from an acquaintance, Maria Strömberg, from Nygård back home in Värmland. Lars Magnus was said to have been engaged for some time to one of Strömberg’s daughters. Andersson, who also moved from Öller’s workshop, invested 1,450 Swedish crowns in the company, and Lars Magnus the sum of 868.71 crowns.

No company could have begun more modestly. It occupied rented premises of 13 square meters in a backyard shed at Drottninggatan 15. Lars Magnus wrote: “We were able to scrape together enough to pay for two lathes and the tools for three workbenches. We allocated the workbenches so that I had one, Carl Andersson another and the third was shared by a young but unusually talented and enterprising fellow called Brunskog and Gabriel Bildsten, a lad of 12.” Gabriel was the son of a Mrs Bildsten, in whose home Lars Magnus had lodgings at the time.

The first commissions involved repairs and minor work on instruments. Their first paying customer was the Stockholm Fire Brigade, which was charged two crowns on April 6 for the repair of mechanical indicators. The workshop had soon gained a reputation “for good workmanship and reliability”, we are told by Hemming Johansson (see overleaf).

A commercial breakthrough came when Lars Magnus was asked by the director of telegraphy for Swedish Railways, J. Stork, to try to improve the receivers used in the railway’s signal system for telegraphic communication between trains and stations. Stork himself had gained fame for his “handsome and useful inventions” for improving safety on the railways. Lars Magnus supplied a solution that was considered superior to earlier versions. The amount invoiced for two signal telegraphs, 860 crowns, comprised a significant proportion of the first year’s turnover.

At the end of 1876, the workshop moved to new premises, at Jakobsbergsgatan 23, and at the end of the following year to Oxtorget, at Lästmakargatan 29, where a small smithy was installed. Three more hands had been taken on – Ernst Valfrid Andersson, Johan Ernst Littorin and Axel Valfrid Kniberg – so that L.M. Ericsson & Co. now had a total of seven employees.

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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