The Egger LECTRON product was first introduced to the public at the Spielwarenmesse (Toy Fair) held in Nürnberg, GERMANY from February 13th - 18th, 1966. The LECTRON was one of three product lines that the Egger-Bahn company had. Egger-Bahn was and continues to be best remembered for its 9mm toy train product. The third product was its toy slot race car line (manufactured by the French company Jouef).
The Egger branded LECTRON product also appeared at the 1967 Spielwarenmesse (Toy theFair) show.
Georg Franz Greger developed the LECTRON system during the early 1960's. He applied for a German patent of his 'Elektronik-Baukasten' on May 7th, 1965. The graphic below is a drawing from the American patent filing of May 5th, 1966.
There is an excellent historical accounting of Egger-Bahn (a model train company based in Munich, Germany) maintained by Ralph Stenzel. Egger-Bahn was formed initially in 1963 by three Egger brothers, and according to Mr. Stenzel, one brother bowed out early on leaving the company under the direction of Johann (business side) and Theodor (engineering side).
Egger-Bahn was first located in 1963 at 29 Heidemannstrasse in Munich. In the latter part of 1964, their new and final address became 73 Albert-Rosshaupter Strasse. Egger-Bahn's bank information is shown in the graphic below.
When Egger-Bahn needed additional investment capital to expand after its first year in existence, Constantin Film and its founder Waldfried Barthel became Egger-Bahn's primary financiers in 1964. Barthel and Greger had collaborated in several patent filings as early as 1966. It would seem that the Greger association with Egger-Bahn came through the Constantin Film financial underwriting. This is an inference of mine that has yet to be substantiated. Internal and external pressures, including cost cutting measures implemented by Constantin Film, impacted Egger-Bahn's manufacturing quality in a negative manner and Egger-Bahn was dissolved in the Fall of 1967. The French company Jouef took over the train assets while Braun and Raytheon would be given the LECTRON sales distributorship rights by Deutsche Lectron, GmbH in late 1967.
Deutsche Lectron GmbH Produktions- (production) und Entwicklungs (development), GmbH was formed in the Fall of 1967 out of Egger-Bahn as the corporate entity to continue the manufacturing, production, and product development of the LECTRON product after the dissolution of Egger-Bahn in 1967. Deutsche Lectron remained at the 73 Albert-Rosshaupter Strasse address. Mr. Greger mainatined an office at this address and was involved with the day to day business of the LECTRON production and development. The date of Deutsche Lectron's shuttering is uncertain at this time although it is presumed that closure occurred soon after Braun terminated its LECTRON association with Deutsche Lectron and Lectron, GmbH under Manfred Walter's leadership, took over in late 1972. Contantin Film retained ownership of the #73 building through the 1970's.
Jouef was the actual manufacturer of the slot cars and Egger simply branded their name on the product for the German market ("Egger Silberpfeil"). This statement has been confirmed by a UK website devoted to the Jouef slot car at JouefSlotCars.FreeForums.org.
At the 1966 Nürnberg Toy Fair, Mr. Greger was in attendance to present the LECTRON to the world. Was he with Dr. Theodor Egger as well? It is highly probable since Egger-Bahn is the company listed under Mr. Greger's signature. Egger-Bahn had introduced their new H0-9mm trains at the 1963 Fair.
Mr. Greger won the first prize award at the Electronica show (Electronica Website) in the Fall of 1966 which has been held in Munich every two years since 1964. I acquired the photograph on the left showing the presentation of the award to Mr. Greger from a brochure published in 1966 by the distributor for the LECTRON in the Netherlands - Reyne en Zonen (Reyne and Sons). The source of the photo was initially from a publicity photograph which did not have the 1st prize caption or the Electronica logo. The shown photo was originally used in Electronica report #4, published on 22-OCT-1966. Sadly, Reyne en Zonen went bankrupt in 2012 and my attempts to contact them for documents and information have failed.
The translation of the Dutch caption verbiage is:
The Lectron-system was invented in 1965 by Georg Greger. The presentation of his invention at the "Didacta" (June 24th - 28th, 1966 - MWP) * in Basel was an instant success. Lectron was the attraction of this fair and was widely recognized as an excellent learning tool. The professionals put the crown on the inventive work of Greger by awarding him the "prize Electronica 1966".
* Didacta is the world's largest and Germany's most important trade fair for education and is still held every year (per their website - Didacta.)
Unfortunately, the caption does not identify who is who in the photograph. Until July of 2015, I was unable to confirm which of the two gentlemen was Mr. Greger. Thanks to Mr. Max Gürth, who was newly contacted in July of 2015, who was one of the early LECTRON instruction manual authors, and who knew Mr. Greger personally, the gentleman on the RIGHT can now be authoritatively identified as Mr. Georg Greger. The gentleman on the left was the presenter, Dr. Leo Steipe.
There is very little known of Mr. Greger's personal information. The only person who I have met who worked directly with Mr. Greger is Mr. Max Gürth. During one of several interviews I conducted with Mr. Gürth, I was told that Mr. Greger was married and had a large white dog. They would meet together primarily at Deutsche Lectron where Mr. Greger maintained an office, although several meetings also took place at Mr. Greger's apartment at 70 Marbachstrasse in apartment 19a. Mr. Gürth would present his ideas using a case which stored many types of LECTRON blocks and a metal ground plate. Mr. Greger was very pleasant and laughed easily. He was also a gifted inventor as reflected in his numerous patent filings starting as early as 1956 with the 'Glasses Glass Drill' patent (DE17255759U).
Mr. Greger continued his association with Constantin Film into at least the 1970's. Patent DE 2406078 A1 - Stereoscopic sound cine film - featured horizontally divided half frames having wide separating strip for alignment, was filed on the 8th of February in 1974. The listed inventor was Georg Greger while the applicant was listed as Constantin Film, GmbH.
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As a footnote: Some 40 years after the formal departure of the Eggers from Egger-Bahn in 1967, Dr. Theodor Egger re-acquired the rights to the Egger-Bahn name in the early 2000's. The trains are currently (2012) manufactured in Switzerland and are sold by direct sales through the Internet under the Egger-Bahn brand. Mr. Roald Hofmann now guides the Egger-Bahn company in Switzerland.
The black and white photo of Dr. Egger on the left was taken in 1964 at the Nürnberg Toy Fair where Egger-Bahn first achieved great notice in 1963.
On the Mr. Hofmann's Swiss website, in addition to the current catalog, history, and philosophy, there is a welcome message from Dr. Egger written in 2003. In case the link does not work over time, the graphic snapshot of the message is immediately below.
According to Ruud Wittekoek, Dr. Egger was married (his wife's name was Ingeborg) but they did not have any children. Her name appears as the Egger-Bahn trademark owner back in 2000.
A satellite photo of the 8b Kirchsteinstrasse address (shown with red pin in the middle of the photo) in Lenggries, GERMANY is shown below.
Sadly, Dr. Ing. Theodor Egger died on December 19th, 2007. I never got to meet him.
My thanks to Ralph Stenzel for doing some local research in Germany and getting me a copy of the obituary card for Dr. Egger. Mr. Stenzel met with Dr. Egger back in 1999 and they spoke about the Egger-Bahn company. Dr. Egger was very sad and angry that the company had gone out of business in 1967 due to 'outside' influences and pressures.
Although I did not have the honor of knowing him personally, Dr. Egger was a great visionary and is fondly remembered by the model train community for his contributions. Of course for me personally, he is the man who brought the LECTRON to the world in collaboration with Georg Greger.
Another photo of Dr. Egger taken in 2003.
The new Egger-Bahn startup team in 2003 - left to right. Ruud Wittekoek, Wolfram Ziegler, Andreas Schönfeld, Theodor Egger, and Roald Hofmann.
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The 1966-1967 Egger-Bahn product line brochure included a brief profile on the model trains, slot cars, and the LECTRON. The graphic below of the original brochure was provided by Ruud Wittekoek who currently resides in the Netherlands. He is an Egger-Bahn enthusiast and a noted authority on its products. Mr. Wittekoek runs an online sales clearing house devoted to narrow gauge toy trains and was a part of the original 2003 Egger-Bahn startup team.
As a bit of trivia, according to Rolf Nitzsche, the boy actor in the blue turtleneck is Hansi Kraus who worked for the Constantin Film company.
Dr. Egger was also passionate about boats and he designed a plastic model under the brand Egger-Schiffe (boats). The N Scale 1/160 Steam Ship 'Rio Magdelana' was a wonderfully detailed model and had some unique features to it including a supporting system of clear underwater rails which would allow the boat to move in real water.
The photo below shows Dr. Egger with his beloved steam ship model, the Rio Magdelana. This is a very rare photo from the private collection of Ruud Wittekoek. I am indebted to him for allowing me to share this photo on Lectron.Info.
The production box cover.
The parts showing the level of detail this model had.
The top of first page of the instruction manual showing Dr. Egger as the designer and KVG Kunststoffverarbeitung Grafing as the Production-Tooling entity, and Roskopf Miniaturmodelle as the exclusive distributor. The instruction page also alludes to a sister ship, the 'Roland'. It was the same ship as the Rio Magdalena, just the decals were different.
Sometime in 1967, Egger-Bahn released a 'souvenir' pen advertising the three lines of business that the company was involved with.
The Egger LECTRON product line initially consisted of a total of four announced models in early 1966 - the 8000, 8100, 8200, and 8300. The 800 was announced in March of 1967 for a July delivery but the dissolution of Egger-Bahn precluded its release under the Egger name. Braun would have the honor of releasing the 800 as its MiniSystem model. The 8400's announcement date was also in 1966 (as it appeared in the Fall of the 1966 Electronica show) but later and it was released that same year.
The graphic below is the only Egger announcement for the 8400 that I have seen. It shows (underneath the tuner and relay blocks) connection blocks which were replaced with new ones (2 Trennbaustein blocks and 2 Messbaustein blocks) for the run of the 8400 product in both Egger and Braun tenures. There is also only one battery block shown (although one could be stacked on top of the other). The productized model had two side by side. The price of 420 DMs was stamped on the document.
In summary, only the five 4 digit models were productized by Egger. All six models however were maintained by Braun during their startup ownership period of LECTRON with minor variations having to do with the packaging and the battery block. New models (including the Ausbausystem 3 and Ausbausystem 4) and hybrids (combinations of models) and an academic model line (Schülerübungssysteme) were also added by Braun during their early ownership period and will be presented under the Braun Era tab.
There is a multi-page article describing the "Egger-LECTRON Model 8400 learning aid" with photos (and a brief mention of the Mini-Lectron (800 model)) in a September, 1967 article which appeared in the American publication, Electronics Illustrated. Interestingly, the article was announcing the impending importation of the Egger LECTRON (rather than the Braun) by Macalaster Scientific Company, a subsidiary of Raytheon and the Raytheon Education Company. As the likely date the article was written (at least a several months prior to its September publication), Egger was still in business. More discussion on the article ensues under the Raytheon Introduction tab. The color version of the Electronics Illustrated article appears in the Egger Era -> Documentation tab.
Unfortunately, I do not currently have an 'official' photo of the original Egger Mini-Lectron Nr. 800 cover and packaging. The Mini-Lectron was not advertised in the official Egger product literature either. The Mini-Lectron was listed and described along with the other 5 Egger 800X models in an Italian brochure issued by G.B.C. Italiana SA.S The model was announced for a July, 1967 availability in a German publication in March, 1967. Unfortunately, the sale of Egger LECTRON to Braun that Fall precluded the release of the Mini-Lectron under the Egger brand. The 3/4 page announcement appeared in the RIM Bastel Buch. My thanks again to Rolf Nitzsche for making this graphic available to LECTRON.Info.
After an email discussion between us concerning the 800's pedigree, Günther Stabe created a pseudo publicity photo of the Egger Mini-Lectron Nr. 800 using the Raytheon Electronic Dominoes model 800 graphic from the instruction manual's cover. The point of the email discussion was about my position that the Raytheon instruction manual cover graphic was actually the original photo of the Egger 800 model and that Raytheon simply used that publicity photo for their initial product launch of the Electronic Dominoes in 1967.
Note that the boy has an earphone in each ear. Two earphone blocks were included in the Braun Minisystem model 800. Raytheon's Electronic Dominoes 800 model substituted one earphone block for the photo cell block. Additionally, note the Egger battery block with the switch. Raytheon used the Braun battery block which did not have the switch. Also, the Styrofoam packaging is black, another Egger trademark. Finally, the Styrofoam packaging for both the Braun and Raytheon models has the number 800 embossed in the upper left hand corner and a notch in the battery block cavity which was originally needed because the Egger battery block had 2 screws securing the cover to the base.
Both the Braun and Raytheon versions of this model (Minisystem and Electronic Dominoes 800 respectively) used the same Styrofoam packaging mold but changed the color from black to white, as mentioned previously. Braun would later change out the white Styrofoam packaging mold for black plastic 'cassette' trays.
A note about the photograph below: The Egger LECTRON models 8000, 8100, 8200, and 8300 were marketed toward the family demographic with this appealing photo of a grandfather and grandson sharing the exciting exploration of electronics. Remember this was 1966 and electronics was viewed as the new frontier and had captured the imagination of the general public.
The graphic below is a rarity (thanks to Rolf Nitzsche for enabling its acquisition by Lectron.Info) that you will only see here - a publicity photograph showing a father figure actor in the iconic Egger cover photo. The same boy actor was used. In fact the same Lectron block layout and base plate was used. This was a prototype model: Non productized knob on the tuner block, line down the side of the speaker block, wheel control in the potentiometer block rather than the stem, and no Lectron brand on the dark blue trim.
In all probability, this photo was taken during a test shoot in early 1966 with both father and grandfather actors in attendance. The grandfather actor won the role and the rest is history. The author or publisher used the photo above for the writeup of their article which appeared in a small (title unknown) magazine between late 1967 and 1968. Braun had taken a five year distributorship contract with Deutsche Lectron by the time the article was published and this explains the closing tag of Hersteller (Manufacturer): Braun.
The LECTRON in an Egger publicity photo filling the electronic engineering design role.
When one examines the Egger-Bahn packaging for their trains, it is easy to see where the inspiration for the Egger- LECTRON photograph came from. The same actor who was the grandfather for the LECTRON model covers, was also the grandfather for the Egger product line brochure's first panel showing the train set (see above tri-fold brochure graphic). Egger-Bahn published their 1965/66 and 1966/67 catalogs in several languages including English.
The 8400, the largest and most comprehensive model, was only sold in a plain large box with a white sleeve and simple black lettering. It featured two battery boxes, two deluxe base plates, and additional component free blocks and was named the Labor (laboratory) Lectron 1. This model was geared toward the academic community. It was not advertised in the majority of Egger's LECTRON product literature. I have only a one page cut sheet published by Egger announcing the 8400. It was listed in the aforementioned Italian G.B.C. Italiana SA.S brochure. Please view the Egger 8400 page for more photos and information.
Interestingly, there was also an 8500 model which was briefly marketed in the Netherlands during the Braun era. It is listed in at least two Dutch price lists from two different sales agencies (Technowa and Reyne En Zonen) in 1969. The main differences between the 8400 and 8500 were that it was shipped in cassette trays rather than the Styrofoam packaging and a second instruction manual was also included. I have not seen a graphic of the 8500 nor have I seen it advertised in Braun's marketing materials.
Another innovation that the Dutch LECTRON distributors introduced to the European market was the use of a double latched wooden storage box to enclose the styrofoam mold or cassette trays. The boxes were made of different sizes to enclose the various models including the 8000 - 8300, the 8400, the 8500, the 202, and the 300. It is unclear whether Egger and later Deutsche Lectron produced these boxes or whether a Dutch manufacturer produced them as they were unique to the Dutch market. By looking at the immediately above price sheet from Technowa, the reader will see the words 'houten opbergkoffer' which means 'wooden storage case'. Reyne En Zonen also sold the same boxes.
Thanks to Ruud Wittekoek, I learned about (and was subsequently able to purchase from him) the very rare white sleeve versions of the Egger 8000, 8200, and 8300 models. They had the same packaging style as the Egger 8400. Unfortunately, Ruud did not own an 8100 model. Why were these white sleeve versions produced? It is my opinion that they were also marketed to the academic community in a like manner as the 8400 was.
The 8400 white sleeve model is shown below. Note the Grey edged trim on the base plate rather than the usual blue. Of course this just may have been a production issue but the two 8400s that I have seen did not have the standard Egger blue trim deluxe base plates.
The 8200 white sleeve model.
The 8300 white sleeve model.