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The first Sweden-made telephones

 H T Cedergren, founder of Stockholms Allmänna Telefon AB (SAT).
H T Cedergren, founder of Stockholms Allmänna Telefon AB (SAT).

The first time telephone devices were offered for public sale in Stockholm was October 13, 1877, when Joseph Leja, who owned a popular store at the corner of Regeringsgatan and Jakobsgatan in the central city, advertised that “Telephones, entirely new” had arrived. It is not clear, however, whether any fixed telephone installations were set up until about two months later.

Brunius was experimenting with telephones in Jönköping in the autumn of 1877 even though he had no access to a physical example. On the basis of drawings of the Bell telephone in the press, he constructed a telephone apparatus that was described by Jönköpings Tidning as “relatively self-contained”. He was unable, for instance, to get hold of the specific type of metal needed for the diaphragm but experimented with iron. Brunius’s telephones were tested between two buildings in Jönköping on November 27. The test was a success, with listeners at the other end of the line hearing speech, music and singing instantaneously, the local paper announced. These were probably the first telephones constructed in Sweden.

One qualified player in this nascent industry, Siemens & Halske, also lost no time. On December 6, 1877, the company’s agent in Copenhagen, the Ritzau Bureau, advertised in Stockholm offering telephones like those used by the Post & Telegraph Office in Berlin. Bell’s telephones had not been presented in Berlin until October 24, but the head of the German post and telegraph system acted immediately and asked Siemens & Halske to make some copies of the telephone. Werner Siemens soon saw that they could be made more powerful if Bell’s rod magnets were replaced by larger horseshoe magnets. This was the beginning of Siemens & Halske’s telephone business and it took no more than six weeks until they had an agent offering telephones for sale in Stockholm.

Yet another competitor was Öller’s workshop. In 1877, Henric Öller was already including the new product in his range and by the end of the year the company had manufactured its first examples of the Bell telephone.

Fixed telephone lines were installed in several places in Sweden in December 1877, with Bell-style telephones at each end, although they were probably already being made by different manufacturers. There is disagreement about who was first. It was most likely engineer and businessman Henrik Thore Cedergren, who engaged C.A. Rapp, a sheet-metal worker, to install a cable across the roofs from his jeweler’s shop at Drottninggatan 32 to his home at Drottninggatan 84 in Stockholm. Or it may have been another cable in the same block that was first, installed by an engineer called Henrik Ahlborg between the office of the Evangelical Patriotic Foundation on Mäster Samuelsgatan and Norman’s Printing Office on Karduansmakaregatan.

What is certain is that the first wrong number in Sweden must have been called by Cedergren shortly after his telephone line had been installed. He used the speaking trumpet of the primitive Bell telephone in his home to ask the shop if it had any earrings in stock. He received the curt response: “We don’t have any earrings!”

When Cedergren went to the shop to sort things out and chastise the assistant for rudeness, he realized the fault must lie elsewhere. It turned out the cable from the Evangelical Patriotic Foundation, which crossed his cable, had collapsed and short-circuited his own, so that his call had gone to the foundation instead to the shop.

About the same time, in Gothenburg, a merchant called Gibson installed a telephone connection between his office and the nearby town of Jönsered, with the telephones supplied from Kristiania (Oslo).

Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

Telephone advert, Dagens Nyheter, 1877

Telephone advert, Dagens Nyheter, 1877


Advert of the warehouse "Joseph Leja" 1877, where Lars Magnus Ericsson at this time bought his first Bell telephone, on which he studied the technology.

Magneticphone with signal trumpet

Magneticphone with signal trumpet


H T Cedergren, founder of Stockholms Allmänna Telefon AB (SAT).

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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