On April 1, 1876, Lars Magnus Ericsson opened his mechanical engineering shop in the courtyard building at Drottninggatan 15. This is an attractive address today, but in the 1870s, conditions in lower Norrmalm were different. It was a relatively run-down part of the city populated by craftsmen and small industries. Lars Magnus Ericsson, his partner Carl Johan Andersson and their errand boy Gabriel Bildsten had their workshop on Drottninggatan in what was once a kitchen with floor space not greater than 13 square meters. Their equipment consisted of two lathes with foot pedals.
The premises on Drottninggatan quickly became too small, and the company, which had now grown to include an employee and an apprentice, moved at the end of 1876 to more spacious premises at Jakobsbergsgatan 23 B, once again occupying the courtyard building. Lars Magnus Ericsson and Carl Johan Andersson also lived in the same building. Their apartments were included in the lease. L M Ericsson & Co., as the firm was then called, remained on Jakobsbergsgatan for about one year.
The amount of work received grew, and at the end of 1877, it was once again time to move to larger premises to Lästmakargatan 29 on the southern side of Oxtorget. These premises were only a few hundred meters from the previous location on Jakobsbergsgatan. Yet again, the courtyard building was chosen. This time, there was space to set up a small foundry.
When this move took place, the company was purely a workshop. No new manufacturing was undertaken. During the period on Lästmakargatan, however, Lars Magnus Ericsson began to make his first telephones, which were based on the American Bell Company's prototype.
Lars Magnus Ericsson's telephone and even the telephone switches that he began to manufacture became popular and the business expanded rapidly. The company remained on Lästmakargatan for three years, and in 1880, Ericsson moved to its fourth and final address on lower Norrmalm at Norrmalmsgatan 5.
On Norrmalmsgatan (now Biblioteksgatan), Ericsson developed from a workshop to an industrial company. Premises were leased in the Magnusson property that extended along the streets Norrmalmsgatan and Mäster Samuelsgatan. This time, the premises faced the street, and it was possible to expand operations, which would prove to be necessary. Although the premises were larger, they were hardly in better shape than those previously rented by the company. The Magnusson properties were described by a contemporary observer as follows.
"The premises that were rented out there for sundry industrial uses were in a generally miserable condition. Maintenance and repairs were performed uncustomarily sparingly. The large courtyard was dominated by a shed, various piles of junk, rubbish barrels and slop, of which the latter with respect to sanitary, or more properly, unsanitary standards, defied description. There were big, fat rats crawling everywhere."
By 1880, when the company had moved to Norrmalmsgatan, Ericsson personnel, including the two owners, consisted of nine persons. Four years later, the workforce had grown to 50 persons, and the company had rented most of the space available on the Magnusson property. The company had a total of more than 440 square meters at its disposal.
In 1884, Ericsson consisted of several departments. One department consisted of employees working in the same area of production. The largest were the machine shop and the foundry. In addition, there were departments for microphone manufacturing, assembly of earpieces and wiring of telephone instruments.
A supervisor or crew boss headed each department. Supervising everyone on the shop floor was the shop manager, who at this time was Lars Magnus Ericsson's partner Carl Johan Andersson. At Norrmalmsgatan 5, there was also a separate office, where Lars Magnus Ericsson worked together with the bookkeeper P O Peterson.
By 1884, the limits for expansion on Norrmalmsgatan had been reached, and the company now moved to a building at Tulegatan 5 that had been built for Ericsson. Eight years after the company was started, Ericsson moved away from lower Norrmalm for the first time to its own building. A new era in the company's history could begin.
Author: Mats Wickman