Nordtomta. The Humble Origins of the Ericsson Global Corporation

Unless you’re in the telecom business or in the military, you most likely know the company Ericsson as one of the major competitors on the cell phone market of the 1990s and the early 2000s. But Ericsson is more than just cell phones. In fact, the company is one of the world’s largest providers of telecommunications. Founded in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1876, the global headquarters are still located there, controlling a corporation with 111, 383 employees worldwide and with 35,000 patents registered to its name.

But did you know that Ericsson was founded by a man who grew up on a farm in a remote part of west Sweden?

The founder of Ericsson was Lars Magnus Ericsson, also known as L M Ericsson.

L M Ericsson in the 1890s.

Lars Magnus Ericsson was born in 1846 on a farm called Nordtomta. Nordtomta is located in Vegerbol, Värmskog parish, a small community in the west-Swedish region of Värmland, bordering on Norway.

290px-Sverigekarta-Landskap_Värmland.svg             lme_karta
Maps of Sweden with Värmland and Värmland with Vegerbol, respectively.
Source: Wikipedia Värmland; LM Ericssons Minnesgård

By Swedish mid-nineteenth century standards, Nordtomta was a large farm. Judging from the buildings that constitute the LM Ericsson Museum, the farm housed the family as well as farm hands and domestic staff and made its living from both husbandry and agriculture.

Värmskog_LM Ericsson_2
Main building, Nordtomta.
Photo: EH Kern

When Lars Magnus was twelve years old his father died. Forced to contribute to the family income, he went to work at the Vegerbol silver mines. The mines did not last for long, but the mine shafts are still visible. The mines are located about one mile from Nordtomta and can be reached by walking on the same road as Lars Magnus did when he went there to work.

Vegerbols silvergruvor_2  Vegerbols silvergruvor_13
The Vegerbol silver mines
Photo: EH Kern

Later on, Lars Magnus took a job as a black smith in the nearest big city, Karlstad. With the money he made as a miner and a black smith, he moved to Stockholm where he began working with telegraph machines. This job made him eligible for scholarships abroad. One of the companies he worked for was Siemens in Germany.

In 1876, Lars Magnus returned to Stockholm and started his own workshop where he copied the telephones made by Bell and Siemens. Although Lars Magnus himself did not believe in a mass market for telephones—he considered telephones as toys for the rich—the Ericsson company established itself abroad early on. The company’s table-top telephone with its patented handheld microphone became a huge success. Meanwhile, the telephone market in Stockholm exploded and by the 1880s, the Swedish capital had the most telephones per capita in the world.

The Ericsson best-selling table-top telephone, nicknamed Taxen (The Dachs-hund) with the patented handheld microphone, 1892.
Source: Holger-Ellgard

Because of a contract with the Swedish state monopoly telecommunications provider, Televerket, Ericsson telephones could be found in every Swedish home throughout the 20th century. In my house, we had the Ericsson telephone Dialog.

The Ericsson telephone, Dialog.
Source: Jgrahn

When Lars Magnus Ericsson died in 1926 he had sold all his shares in the Ericsson corporation. He lies buried in Botkyrka, outside of Stockholm. At his request, his grave has no headstone.

In the words of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.

Lars Magnus Ericsson (Nationalencyklopedien)
Lars Magnus Ericsson (Wikipedia)
LM Ericsson Museet, Värmskogs Hembygdsförening
Ericsson Facts & Figures

Images of LM Ericsson, Taxen, and Dialog have been downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.

Happy First Anniversary, The Boomerang!

On June 5, 2013, I published the first post on my new and first-ever blog, The Boomerang. The post was a short but sweet thought-piece about Rihanna’s album Rated R, the songs of which have spawned several science fiction stories revolving around a recurring group of characters. Hopefully, you will soon be able to read these stories in some kind of publication near you.

The Boomerang got its name from a catch phrase used by a Swedish comedy team in the 1990s. Each episode ended with the host sitting in an armchair, holding a boomerang. He said, “In the words of my friend, the Australian, I will be back.” I have taken that catch phrase, changed it slightly to not sound like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, and made it my sign off phrase after each blog post I publish.

I chose the name and the catch phrase because I love these comedians and because my blog was intended to be a place to where I could return to express my thoughts.

So, how has The Boomerang been doing during its first year?
Here are some stats that might be of interest.

Number of views June 2013: 131.
Number of views May 2014: 708.

The Boomerang experienced a spike in views when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, separating the region from Ukraine, and information on the history of the region was scarce. I was happy to see that The Boomerang could fill a part of that void.

Over the course of this first year, these are the three most popular posts on The Boomerang.
Most popular post: HG Wells The Time Machine and the Issue of Race.
Second most popular post: Iron Maiden and the Crimean War.
Third most popular post: Five Reasons You Should Go to Mississippi.

I started The Boomerang as a place where I could find my voice as an historian and as a writer. I am grateful to all of you who have decided to give me and my posts a piece of your time and your thoughts.

I am looking forward to a second year with The Boomerang.
I hope you will join me.

In the word’s of my friend, the Australian, I shall return.