World-famous Swedish inventor and entrepreneur, founder of Ericsson, one of the largest manufacturers of telecommunications equipment, Lars Magnus Ericsson glorified his name so that it became a household word.
Lars Magnus was born on May 5, 1846 in the vicinity of the Vegerbol village to a farming family of modest means. He was the sixth child and, just like his brothers and sisters, never attended a day of school. Lars Magnus was 12 years old when the family lost their father and breadwinner. The boy was forced to go to work. At the age of 15, he moved to Norway, where he worked as a miner and blacksmith. Six years later he returned to Sweden and settled in Stockholm. He worked in electromechanical workshops (repairing telegraph equipment) and in the evening he studied hard.
In 1867, Ericsson joined Ollers & Co., the first Swedish electrical engineering company. Six years later, he again left home and stayed in Germany, where he worked for his future competitors: first as a draftsman in Berlin, at Siemens & Halske, then in Bern, at Hasler & Escher. With experience and knowledge in 1875 Lars returned to Stockholm. On the eve of his 30th birthday, April 1, 1876, together with a colleague from previous work in Ollers & Co (Carl Andersson) he founded the firm 'Electromechanical Workshops L.M. Ericsson & Co.' (LME), which was supposed to repair telegraph and signaling equipment. But some time later, the company began to manufacture its own products and devices, e.g. desk phones with a magneto and a mouthpiece. As a distinguished engineer, Ericsson was the creator of most of his Company's developments. The various pparatus, which it manufactured, were nicknamed 'telephone Rolls Royces'.
Despite the fact that, in 1880, the Bell Company, LME's main competitor, built the first commercial line in Stockholm, Ericsson took revenge the very next year and won the tender for the supply of telephone equipment to the Swedish national telephone association, called Telegrafverket. During the next five years 64 of the 93 Swedish cities were telephonized by Ericsson. When Telegrafverket established its own production, however, Ericsson sales fell sharply. The situation was rescued by foreign orders that came from Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and Norway. A concession for the construction of a telephone exchange in Shanghai was also obtained. In London they opened a sales office and then a manufacturing plant. When, at the turn of the century in South Africa, the Anglo-Boer War broke out, LME supplied a large number of field telephones. At the beginning of the 20th Century Ericsson opened an office and factory in New York. At the same time they launched a large-scale project to build a telephone exchange in Mexico City.
The greatest demand for Ericsson phones came from Russia. They were inexpensive, had good quality and a loud clear sound. Ericsson even offered to change residence and become a Russian resident.
In 1893 the Company telephonized Kiev. Then, in 1896, Kharkiv. Followed by Rostov in 1897, Riga, Kazan and Tiflis (all in 1900). In 1897 Ericsson opened its St. Petersburg factory, which took two years to build by St. Petersburg architect K. Schmidt.
In 1901, aged 55 years, Ericsson resigned as President of the Company he created. In 1903 he sold all his shares to his companions and returned to his homeland. There he spent thirteen years building the 'ideal farm' with full electrification. And when he finished, he gave it to his youngest son and moved to a neighboring farm. The Ericssons had the privilege of the royal house of Bernadotte, which only one other Sweden family has. He earned himsalf lifetime free calls within his country. At home Ericsson received royal honors.
Lars Magnus Ericsson died on 17 December, 1926 at the age of 80. According to his will, there would be no ceremonies, not even a gravestone. "Nameless I came into this world, I want to leave it namelessly," said Ericsson.
His wish was fulfilled only in part. He was laid to rest in an unmarked grave but his name became known worldwide. To this day the Company is growing and thriving thanks to its founder chosing the right path.