I recently listed an Ericofon on eBay and decided to do some online research on this uniquely designed telephone. It is a design classic designed by L M Ericsson Company of Sweden in the 1940s and was first produced in 1954 and discontinued in 1972.
The first phones were produced for institutional use in hospitals. They were used at patient bedsides as they could be lifted by the patient to the bed easily. Imagine what it would have been like to reach or lift one of the heavy rotary phone handsets. They were first sold for home use in 1956 in the European and Australian markets. Ma Bell in America, resisted the Ericofon and as they had the monopoly and owned the phones, the introduction of the Ericofon to the American market was delayed.
Initially, the Ericofon was offered in 18 colors in the North American market, selling through North Electric (a telephone builder in Ohio), in which Ericcson had part ownership. When home sales of the Ericofon began to explode in the American market (sales exceeding capacity by 500%), Ericsson increased their holdings in North Electric to become the principal shareholder. Then around 1961 they transferred manufacture of the Ericofon for the American market to North Electric. At this time, North Electric narrowed the offering of colors from 18 to 8.
Popular among collectors, the Ericofon was produced in both rotary, dialless, and touch tone designs.