Automatic exchange telephone

The Ericofon was the first commercially successful telephone which incorporated both handle and dial within a single unit. Manufactured by the Swedish company Ericsson, and available for lease from the Postmaster-General’s Department, the streamlined design has been praised for anticipating the cordless phone, and later mobile phone, by several decades.

The ‘cobra’ design was formulated in the 1940s and manufactured in the 1950s; Australian cases were likely made in the L M Ericsson Broadmeadows factory. Although new thermoplastic technology allowed for a bolder aesthetic than traditional black Bakelite telephones, Ericofon sales accounted for only 4% of the market and it never enjoyed popularity with Australian subscribers. The design did, however, spark a conceptual shift whereby the telephone “was seen more as a consumer product than merely an extension of telephony” (Ericsson).

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