Georg Franz Greger Dipl.-Ing and a Constantin Film employee, 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 demonstrating conclusively that he was the sole inventor of the Lectron System.
The Egger Lectron System product (marketed as Egger Lectron) was first introduced to the public at the Spielwaren-messe (Toy Fair) held in Nürnberg, Germany from February 13th – 18th, 1966. The Lectron System 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 English translation of the above:
How will EGGER-LECTRON be delivered?
For now, as the following compilations:
BASE BOX # 8000 87,00 DM
CONSTRUCTION BOX 1 # 8100 83.00 DM
CONSTRUCTION BOX 2 # 8200 96.00 DM
SUPER LECTRON A # 8300 165.00 DM
With the basic equipment and the two options to expand (# 8100 and 8200), altogether 90 different experiments are possible.
The assembly of SUPER LECTRON A consists of BASE BOX # 8000 and CONSTRUCTION BOX 1 # 8100. With those elements you can build i.e. a 3- transistor radio.
It is our intent, that LECTRON building blocks will be able to be delivered in the future as individual pieces, however, for the time being they are only offered as a set.
When will EGGER-LECTRON be delivered?
The production of the LECTRON building blocks is in full swing and the first deliveries could leave our factory as early as end of July 1966.
What are the distributor benefits that EGGER-ELECTRON offers?
1. This system is unrivaled in its kind. World patents secure this position.
2. EGGER-LECTRON saves space. It does not require cumbersome warehousing.
3. EGGER-LECTRON can be easily and convincingly demonstrated, even by untrained sales forces, due to its’ simple design. (BASE BOX and SUPER LECTRON A contain already a constructed and functional experiment. As soon as a battery is inserted into the battery case, experiment 1 of the “Interesting Electronics” (series) can be demonstrated).
4. The constant expansion of the electronic system secures a consistent demand for replacements.
5. The sale of EGGER-LECTRON is not dependent on seasons. We will experiment all year round.
6. Large-scale press and advertising campaigns will support the popularity of EGGER-LECTRON and therefore their sales.
We are certain, that our youngest star will end up being your sales star as well. Effective advertising mediums are in the works.
We would be pleased to receive your orders for EGGER-LECTRON soon, so that we are able to supply you in a timely fashion.
With friendly greetings,
The new Egger Lectron product line was also presented at the Electronica Show from October 20th through 30th that same year. Notice the appearance of the 8400 Labor Lectron 1 model as well on the right in the last film sequence.
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 Dr.-Ing. Theodor (engineering side – his photo on the left circa 1964).
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 (building owned by Constantin Film). 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 (photo on left) became Egger-Bahn’s primary financiers in 1964. Mr. Barthel and Mr. Greger collaborated in several non Lectron System related patent filings as early as 1966. This collaboration would continue through the late 1970’s focusing on film industry innovations including an Einband-Stereotonfilm patent and a Synchronization Technique for Sound Film patent. It would seem that the Mr. Greger association with Egger-Bahn came through the Constantin Film financial underwriting. With Egger Bahn’s production and manufacturing prowess established with its 9mm train product, productizing the Lectron System with Egger-Bahn seemed a logical choice. Unfortunately, the Constantin Film and Egger-Bahn association would not work out. Internal and external pressures, including cost cutting measures implemented by Constantin Film, impacted Egger-Bahn’s manufacturing quality in a negative manner. Dr. Theodor Egger was effectively ‘pushed out’ of his own company, and Egger-Bahn was dissolved by Constantin Film in the Fall of 1967. The Lectron System would continue to evolve in the new company formed to preserve and continue its evolution.
Deutsche Lectron Produktions- (production) und Entwicklungs (development), GmbH was formed as the new company to carry on with the Lectron System product. The French company Jouef took over the train assets. Jouef was the actual manufacturer of the slot cars product 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. Braun and Raytheon would be given the Lectron System sales distributorship rights by Deutsche Lectron in late 1967.
Deutsche Lectron remained at the 73 Albert-Rosshaupter Strasse address to leverage the existing production lines. Mr. Greger also maintained an office at this address and was involved with the day to day business of the Lectron System 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 System association with Deutsche Lectron and Lectron, GmbH (located in Frankfurt) under Manfred Walter‘s leadership, took over the Lectron System assets in late 1972. Contantin Film retained ownership of the #73 Albert-Rosshaupter Strasse building through the late 1970’s, likely until its demolition to make way for a large combination store front and apartment building.
Egger-Bahn Product Lines
The 1966-1967 Egger-Bahn product line brochure included a brief profile on the model trains, slot cars, and the Lectron System. The above graphic from 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 reboot 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.
In addition to trains, 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 on the left shows Dr. Egger with his beloved steam ship model. This is a unique photo from the private collection of Ruud Wittekoek.
All the parts showing the level of detail that 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. In the United States, this model was sold exclusively by Boyd Models in Los Angeles, CA.
Sometime in 1967, Egger-Bahn released a ‘souvenir’ pen advertising the three lines of business that the company was involved with.
The Egger Lectron
The Egger Lectron System product line initially consisted of a total of four announced models in early 1966 – the 8000, 8100, 8200, and 8300. The 8400 was announced in the summer of 1966 and appeared at the Fall Electronica show that year. The 800 (Mini-Lectron) 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 graphic to the left 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 the Lectron System 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). Large block demonstration models like the 1300 (Demonstrationsysteme) and an academic model line (Schülerübungssysteme) were also added by Braun during their early ownership period.
The photo carousel below presents 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 published in the American monthly magazine, Electronics Illustrated. Interestingly, the article was announcing the impending importation of the Egger Lectron System (rather than the Braun) by Macalaster Scientific Company, a subsidiary of Raytheon and the Raytheon Education Company. The article was written at least several months prior to its September publication and Egger was still in business. Click on the any graphic to bring up the light box view.
This cover graphic appeared on all production models with the exception of the 8400. The Egger Lectron System models 8000, 8100, 8200, and 8300 were primarily 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 to the left is a rarity (thanks to Rolf Nitzsche for enabling its acquisition by Lectron.Info) – 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, lines down the side of the speaker and ferrite antenna blocks, 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 (as they say) history. The author or publisher used the photo above for the write up 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 family-centric cover photograph not with standing, the Lectron System was also marketed by Egger-Bahn to the academic/vocational community. The test equipment photo emphasized the Lectron System platform as being suitable for advanced learning at the vocational and university education level.
Addendum Manuals A and B
As a special treat to Lectron.Info visitors, I present the following rare Egger Lectron addendum manuals A and B. Each addendum consists of 10 additional experiments. Experiments 1 – 10 of addendum A could be done with the 8000 model. Experiments 1 – 9 of addendum B requires a relay which was only provided in the 8200 and 8400 models. Experiment 10 required the multi-transistor block which was also only provided in the 8200 and 8400 models.
The ‘White Sleeve’ and Wood Box Models
The ‘White Sleeves’ models were not actively marketed through Egger brochures. These versions dispensed with the outside cover, added an inside plastic transparent over and an outside white sleeve. What was their purpose? My conjecture is that they were produced for the academic/vocational market segment. These versions used the same white sleeve and no color cover approach that was used for the 8400 model. These versions also had a unique to this product line internal plastic cover. The 8400 in particular had been designed with the academic setting in mind featuring the two ground plates and two battery blocks.
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 System 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.
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 (2019) 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 with their 9mm train models.
On 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.
Dr. Egger and his wife Ingeborg lived in Lenggries, Germany at 8b Kirchsteinstrasse. I do not know (as of 2019) if they had children or when Ingeborg passed on.
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 System to the world in collaboration with Georg Greger. Sadly, Dr. Ing. Theodor Egger died on December 19th, 2007. I never got to meet him.