Öller & Co. Telephone Company (end 1877/start 1878, Sweden)
The Telephone History Museum continues to grow with new exhibits. Most recently finding its permanent residence in our Museum was the Öller & Co. apparatus, a rare telephone and the dream of any collector.
One of the pioneers in Swedish telecommunications technology was Anton Henric Öller. The son of a pharmacist, he was born in 1819. He was well educated and had skills and experience in various fields. In particular, he tried to produce silk in Stockholm.
In the early 1850s Öller’s friend Ludwig Fahnehjelm, an inventor and Captain in the naval mechanics corps, managed to interest him in conducting experiments in electrical telegraphy. In July 1853 Öller and Fahnehjelm held the first successful Swedish electrical telegraph connection, linking the cities of Stockholm and Uppsala. In 1854 Öller was appointed as head of the Telegraph Department of the Electric Telegraph Authority in the city of Uppsala.
At that time most of Sweden’s new telegraph equipment had to be imported. The State-owned PTT Televerket Company, however, sought to establish domestic production as soon as possible. They commissioned the Swedish instrument producers to make copies of the German and British telegraph machines. In his spare time, Henric Öller continued to conduct experiments with the telegraph and create new designs.
In 1857, Henric Öller founded Öller & Co. to produce, repair and improve telegraph machines. It was Sweden’s first manufacturing company focusing on electrical equipment, particularly the telegraph machine.
Öller & Co. focused on the manufacture of electrical equipment and served as a training ground for skilled telecom professionals, some of whom left the Company after a few years to open their own work-shops. The most successful of them was Lars Magnus Ericsson, who came to Öller & Co. as a student in 1867 and worked there (with a short break to study in Germany, in Siemens & Halske) until 1876. After having left Öller & Co., Ericsson and his colleague Carl Johann Andersson founded L.M. Ericsson & Co.
From this moment onwards a strong rivalry arose between Öller & Co. and L.M. Ericsson, especially in the field of telephony.
On one occasion, at the end of 1877, Siemens demonstrated their improved copy of Bell’s phone. Öller copied it in the same year and put it into production. Ericsson, in turn, began to produce telephones which were virtually indistinguishable from the one made by Öller.
In 1886, due to the fierce competition with Ericsson, Öller & Co. began losing its grip on the market and, in 1889, after the death of Henric Öller, the Company was closed after 33 years of existence. There is no accurate information on how many telephones were manufactured by Öller & Co. An estimate puts the figure at no more than 400 units.