The Stockholm telephone tower – when telecom was in a prototype phase

Editor's note: This is the second of two posts we're running on Telefontornet, the old "phone tower" in Stockholm. Pictures of the tower always fascinate people, and they inspired two different takes from our bloggers. Sir, I have problem with my phone line. Can you fix it please?

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Maybe you have already seen the picture, or maybe you actually saw it during old days (if you are very old). But the phone tower in Stockholm was actually a tower to be proud of back in 1880´s.

Maybe you made your own phones when you were child? I did. We took two plastic cups and then connected a short length of string between them. We strapped them, and a new phone was created, and me and my friend could talk to each other in a simple way. My own home-made phone. But of course, this solution was not a new kid thing.

The genius solution in the picture above was devised for real already in the year 1887. This great tower handled 5,500 subscribers and had total lines of around 5,000km.

Initially the phone tower was supposed to be 80 meter high in iron, but problems led to the rather behaved four stands, similar to those previously erected in various parts of the city, but here in larger dimensions. Pretty the public and the press felt that the tower was ugly, and that it needed a makover. A decoration competition was announced for the tower, and in 1890 the tower got the four corner towers with flags. At all major events in Stockholm, the flags were hoisted.

Already in the early 1890s, wires began to be grouped together in cables underground. By around 1913, this change was complete, and telephone tower lost its function, even if individual lines were left.

Sometimes simple solutions are the best. This solution was the best for that time and shows when function is more important than design. This is, from my perspective, often true when you are in pretty much the prototype stage.

But of course, I still wonder how they handled the repair of each line when they did go down.


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