Formation of Deutsche Lectron, GmbH
Hypothesis of When Deutsche Lectron Closed Its Doors
Film of the Deutsche Lectron Facility
Price List – March 17th, 1970
Deutsche Lectron GmbH Produktions- (production) und Entwicklungs (development) was formed in late 1967 as the new corporate entity to continue the manufacturing and product development of the Lectron System after the dissolution of Egger-Bahn in the Fall of 1967.
On December 11th of 2015, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Max Gürth (on the far left of the photo) along with my research colleague Günther Stabe. Mr. Gürth worked with Mr. Georg Greger (the inventor of the Lectron System) over the span of about 6 years. As a former Siemens‘ employee with significant electronic engineering experience, Mr. Gürth was an invaluable resource to Mr. Greger and helped with numerous circuit optimizations. Mr. Gürth visited Mr. Greger at both the latter’s office (at the original Egger-Bahn/Deutsche Lectron manufacturing building located at 73 Albert-Rosshaupterstrasse in Munich) and home at 19a Marbachstrasse. It was about a 10 minute short walk from Mr. Greger’s apartment to work. Mr. Greger remained with Deutsche Lectron and was materially involved with Lectron System models developed during the Braun years (1967 – 1972).
As evidenced from an internal Lectron, GmbH memo from May of 1973 shown immediately above (see the first line detailing the four authors’ identities), Mr. Gürth also continued on as an ‘author’ and consultant for Lectron, GmbH. This association only lasted for a couple of years.
The photo below shows the Egger-Bahn 9mm train production/manufacturing facility in full swing! The signature in blue on the upper right of the photo belongs to the founder of Egger-Bahn, Dr. Theodor Egger himself!
The production/manufacturing facilities remained located at Egger-Bahn’s facility in Munich at the Albert-Rosshaupterstrasse location possibly 1972 (when Lectron, GmbH was formed by Mr. Manfred Walter and was headquartered in Frankfurt am Main). The building remained a Constantin Film property until its destruction around late 1979. The graphic below shows the property under Constantin Film ownership in 1974, two years after Deutsche Lectron was likely shuttered upon Mr. Walter’s establishment of Lectron, GmbH.
The photo below shows the 73 Albert-Rosshaupterstrasse location today. The current building was completed in about 1980 and the current elevators were added in 1984. An apartment complex along with a ground floor of businesses including a travel agency and dentist (as of 2013) is now at this address.
Formation of Deutsche Lectron, GmbH
An article published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (F.A.Z.) on April 20th, 1968 shed some light on the forming of Deutsche Lectron and its role in establishing sales distributorships with both Braun, AG and Raytheon.
The English translation (with thanks to Mr. Günther Stabe and Google Translate) of this important article is:
Lectron-kits in high demand
Deutsche Lectron GmbH, Munich.
In the course of 1967 for the experimental equipment Lectron, exclusive distributor agreements were made with Braun, AG of Frankfurt and Raytheon Comp. in Boston, Mass. Order intake has increased for the electronic module system to an unusual degree the company (Deutsche Lectron) announced. Originally part of the Munich based Egger-Bahn GmbH KG, Lectron products are in good demand in the wake of the favorable economic development. This has led to the reorganization and renaming of the company to “Deutsche Lectron, GmbH production and development GmbH”. The production and development of Egger model trains went over to the French company Jouef, the French Jouet in Paris. The Deutsche Lectron GmbH involved in the Munich production now is exclusively in the production and development of its experimental electronic devices (Lectron System).
Another interesting revelation that this article provides is that it was Deutsche Lectron which ‘called the shots’ about awarding sales distributorships. Braun AG was awarded a 5 year sales distributorship (PDF link will display original Braun memorandum in German and translated English) for the Lectron System throughout the world with the exception of the United States which was ceded to the Raytheon Education Company (a division within Raytheon). This solves part of the mystery of how Raytheon became involved with the Lectron System.
A major umbrella topic of research has been how the relationship with Braun, AG and Deutsche Lectron, GmbH worked. How were new models developed? Who was on the product development team? What was the level of collaboration between the two companies? Deutsche Lectron, GmbH had the manufacturing, production, and development roles as a part of their mission statement and even in their official full name so was Braun, with all their resources, simply relegated to the sales and marketing roles? From internal memos that I possess, Braun’s role as the management of the Lectron System was clear. There was a 5 year agreement that obligated Braun to a certain level of manufacturing and product.
Some answers to the above questions were revealed through conversations I conducted with Mr. Gürth in September of 2015:
- Braun, AG through Mr. Manfred Walter, hired authors to develop new models. We know this from conversations with Mr. Gürth conducted by Günther Stabe at my request. For example, Mr. Edzard Timmer developed the Curriculum Kybernetik I, and the Ausbausystem 4 – Curriculum Kybernetik II models. Mr. Gürth himself collaborated with Mr. Greger and other Lectron System authors (including Mr. Hartmut Birett of the Funktionsmodelle model fame) to develop new circuits and revise existing circuits to optimal operation.
- Mr. Gürth met with Mr. Greger numerous times at the latter’s office at Deutsche Lectron and he was even sadly informed by Mr. Greger of the imminent sale of the Lectron System business in late 1971. The sale was completed in 1972 to Mr. Walter who then formed Lectron, GmbH.
- Mr. Greger, in concert with Mr. Walter, continued overseeing the development of new models through the hiring of external authors, during the Braun years (1967 – 1972). Mr. Greger’s involvement with the Lectron System ended after the dissolution of Deutsche Lectron sometime in 1972.
Hypothesis of When Deutsche Lectron Closed Its Doors
I would like to propose that Deutsche Lectron was shuttered shortly after Manfred Walter finalized the formation of the Lectron, GmbH company on September 30th, 1972.
I offer the following evidence:
From a newspaper article published by F.A.Z. on December 13th, 1972.
The article states that Lectron, GmbH’s formation was finalized on October 30th, 1972 for the development (Entwicklung), production (Herstellung), and sales (Vertrieb) under the name “Lectron” of electrical and electromagnetic devices and their components. This would seem to state that those roles for the Lectron System were no longer performed by Deutsche Lectron, GmbH.
As another bit of evidence dated on April 26th, 1973, there was an announcement of Lectron prices effective May 1st and the names and roles of the new Lectron, GmbH management team were listed. In the Impressum (masthead) section of the document was the description of what the Lectron company did. Entwicklung, Produktion und Vertrieb elektronischer Gerate und Systeme. This was nearly the same verbiage that was in Deutsche Lectron’s full legal name – Deutsche Lectron GmbH Produktions- (production) und Entwicklungs (development) GmbH. Lectron GmbH would not use this description of its business if Deutsche Lectron still had the roles of development and production.
Although the masthead shows the business address as being at the same Braun location during Braun’s distributorship of the Lectron System from 1967 – 1972, production did not occur at the Braun facility. The location of the production facility is uncertain. Mr. Walter would relocate the Lectron System business offices to 143 Gartenstrasse (where according to Mr. Gürth the vacuum mold machines for the production of the plastic trays were also located) in Kronberg during that May of 1973.
As my final bit of evidence, according to a multi-page document that I acquired in June of 2014 and dated March 8th, 1971, Braun’s distribution agreement with Deutsche Lectron was detailed. It was for only a 5 year term (1968 – 1972). See item #4 – Lösung von Deutsche Lectron. The English translation is:
Termination of Deutsche Lectron
The 5-year distribution agreement (1968-1972) with Deutsche Lectron, Munich, committed BAG (Braun AG) for 1971 and 1972 to purchase blocks in the value of DM 2,700,000.
To get out of these purchase obligations, BAG must sign a license agreement with Deutsche Lectron and assume all stocks stored there. Then – and only then – can Lectron be given to another partner in the short term and the license will be transferred. In the following, the different ways of solving the Lectron problem will be examined.
The document then continues to outline multiple disengagement scenarios.
When Lectron, GmbH was formed, the association with Deutsche Lectron was not continued.
Film of the Deutsche Lectron Manufacturing Facility
The following video is a highly prized acquisition by the Lectron.Info museum. It shows the former Egger-Bahn manufacturing and assembly facility 73 Albert-Rosshaupter Strasse in Munich after its repurposing for Deutsche Lectron use. Various manufacturing processes are shown. The film was made between the Fall of 1967 and the end of 1972 (the Deutsche Lectron name on the building replacing the Egger-Bahn name).
Photographs from the film are available for viewing on the home page carousel viewer.
During our 2015 meeting, Mr. Gürth even remembered the layout of the Deutsche Lectron offices and a graphical representation prepared by Mr. Stabe is presented immediately below.
Price List – 1970-MAR-17
This is a very rare price list from Deutsche Lectron issued on March 17th, 1970. This is a quantity based price list. If the order amount of a block fell below 1,000, then the price would increase by 10%. Presumably this was the type of price list used by Braun (until 1972) and Raytheon (until 1969) for ordering purposes.
Of special note is part number 8067 – Mikrophone (Microphone). This was one of several parts shown in the Deutsche Lectron parts list which was never productized. The Steck-baustein 3, 6 and 8 pole blocks (#s 8068, 8069 and 8070) were another such example. Interested readers can examine the Egger-Lectron block catalog here.
A microphone should have been a fundamental component in the Lectron parts family but from the first Egger-Lectron product line onward, the earphone block was substituted to serve in that role, likely to ease production costs.
Note the listing of the 2 pole motor (8087) 3 pole motor (8090), the N (8088) and S (8089) magnets. One of the motors and the 2 magnets were used in the Braun prototype Model 111. The motor was not productized during the Braun era and would wait until the Lectron-MW era to appear for purchase.
With the courtesy of the BraunCollection curator Mr. Horst Kaupp in Kronburg during June of 2014 I was given access to some rare Lectron System items including the first Braun parts catalog. It was actually an A3 sized version of a smaller A5 version that was used originally by Egger-Lectron. The page content was identical as was the grey plastic binder. It used the 4 digit Deutsche Lectron number scheme. The two photo reproductions below are from that catalog and show graphic representations of the parts. Braun changed their numbering scheme from 4 digits to 7 digits with their first price list issued in September of 1967.
In the photo below, please take note of the aforementioned microphone part! A great idea that never came to fruition in 53 years (as of 2019). Instead, the earphone block was used as a makeshift microphone when needed.
I still have not found incorporation papers for Deutsche Lectron to identify the corporate officers but I have acquired some information using a trademark search and from several newspaper articles from that time.
The simple Lectron trademark logo was first commercially used by Egger-Bahn on April 4th, 1966 and was added underneath the Egger name to form their official trademark logo. The logo was used on all of their boxes – black on the white sleeves and white on the color packaging models.
Deutsche Lectron began to use the Lectron trademark logo (without the word Egger) in September of 1967. This was about the same time that Braun acquired sales rights of the Lectron assets from Deutsche Lectron when Egger-Bahn went out of business. Egger-Bahn then formally assigned their trademark to Deutsche Lectron on July 29th, 1968.
Braun did not use the Lectron trademark logo and created their own and Deutsche Lectron later assigned the Lectron trademark to INELCO in 1975. The reader may recall that INELCO was one of the two companies (Lectron, GmbH being the other company) that Braun divested themselves of the Lectron System sales assets to.