Manufacturer Ericsson’s private life

Sweden, 1890s, summer archipelago trip

When Lars Magnus Ericsson opened his own engineering shop in 1876 at Drottninggatan 15 in Stockholm, his starting capital consisted of SEK 1,000, which he had borrowed from Mrs. Maria Strömberg. He undoubtedly received this loan because he was engaged for a time to one of Maria Strömberg's daughters.

A personal relationship was also involved in selecting the first two employees. Carl Johan Andersson, who soon became a partner, was a former co-worker from Öller & Co. The errand boy Gabriel Bildsten was the son of a Mrs. Bildsten in whose home Lars Magnus Ericsson rented a room.

Gabriel Bildsten was probably the person behind one of the most important meetings in Ericsson's history. According to the stories, Gabriel was sent one day to Cedergren's jewelry store to purchase silver for electrical contacts. When he saw a telephone in the store he announced proudly "My boss makes much better telephones." The store owner H T Cedergren heard these words and quickly put on his coat. He accompanied Gabriel back to the workshop and thus met Lars Magnus Ericsson for the first time. If this story is true, it was undeniably an important moment in Swedish telecommunications.

In 1878, Lars Magnus married Hilda Simonsson. Hilda took part in the development of L M Ericsson & Co. as a co-worker, as well as a business and discussion partner as business increased. In addition, she took care of the couple's home and their four children: Johan, Lars Magnus, Gustaf and Anna.

According to contemporaries, Lars Magnus Ericsson was a very shy person who disliked any publicity relating to himself. He refused an award of an honorary doctorate from Stockholm University and usually left on a trip on occasions when he knew that he would be honored.

Lars Magnus Ericsson was at home on his 50th birthday, however, when a group of singers from the company came to pay their respects. They were let into his home, but Lars Magnus was nowhere to be seen. "The singers had to perform their songs for the walls, since the manufacturer refused to make an appearance. Only after a number of days did he personally thank the company for the wonderful singing, which he had greatly enjoyed. Employees learned subsequently that he had been listening in an adjoining room and that he had appreciated the performance but not wished to be present officially," wrote Gustaf Collberg, an Ericsson employee who served many years with the company and recorded this and many other stories.

After having transformed his company from a small engineering firm to a major industry with international aspirations, work had taken its toil on Lars Magnus Ericsson, and by the turn of the century it was time to step down. In 1901, Lars Magnus Ericsson resigned as president, and two years later, he departed the company for good. Another Collberg story from this time emphasizes how Lars Magnus Ericsson avoided making a fuss.

In 1903, there were several supervisors standing in the yard at Thulegatan 19 when a very large drawing press was to be installed in the pressing department at L M Ericsson. The group included Lars Magnus Ericsson and foreman Blesell. After discussing the press and its size for a while, manufacturer Ericsson uttered the following. "I'm going now. Thank you and good bye." That was the last time he was seen at the factory.

As early as 1895, Lars Magnus Ericsson had purchased a property at Alby Gård outside Stockholm. He now devoted himself to establishing a mechanized and electrified farming operation. The farm was also built up. The main building was restored and a new complex for agricultural building was erected.

When his son Gustaf took over Alby in 1916, Lars Magnus and Hilda Ericsson moved to Hågelby in the same district. Lars Magnus Ericsson's sight became progressively poorer, and during his final years, he could not read, much less work on a drafting board. He died at Hågelby on December 17, 1926 at the age of 80.

Lars Magnus Ericsson was buried in Botkyrka Cemetary. At his own request, no gravestone was erected.

Author: Pontus Staunstrup & Mats Wickman

Ericsson, Lars Magnus (75th birthday, 1921)

The founder of Ericsson, Lars Magnus Ericsson, on his 75th birthday. He stands on the terrace of the Hågelby mansion, where he moved in 1915.

Sweden, 1985, LM Ericsson Memorial

The memorial stone near his birthplace. Erected in 1946, 100 years after his birth.

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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