The Transition History – Braun AG to Lectron GmbH
Lectron, GmbH Under Manfred Walter
The Early Years: 1972 – 1975
The Later Years: 1976 – 1996
1997 – 25th Anniversary Product Line
The Final Years: 1998 – 2001
55 Limburger Strasse
Lectron, GmbH was formed by Mr. Manfred Walter after having purchased the right to take over the Lectron System assets from Deutsche Lectron and the Sales Agency from Braun in the Fall of 1972. Mr. Walter has been the Lectron System division manager at Braun since the Fall of 1967.
The Transition History – Braun AG to Lectron, GmbH
According to the F.A.Z newspaper article of November 17th, 1973, Braun formally began to arrange for the transition of the Lectron System sales distributor-ships to two companies in the Fall of 1972 – INELCO of Italy and Lectron, GmbH of Germany. What happened to Deutsche Lectron? There was only a five year distributorship contract (1968 – 1972) between Deutsche Lectron and Braun. Once the terms of the contract were met, Deutsche Lectron, GmbH was dissolved and the development (Entwicklung), production (Herstellung), and sales (Vertrieb) fell to Lectron, GmbH.
The above article provides so much critical information that I had it translated into English courtesy of Mr. Thomas H. Doering, a fellow Lectron System aficionado.
A Market For Educational Building Blocks
Lectron primarily successful in teaching aid business
Lectron Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Haftung (GmbH) (with limited liability), Frankfurt/Main.
The main principle is amazingly simple: on a metal work top, which works as a conductor at the same time, you attach blocks that stick together magnetically on the work top and to each other and which also show professional electronic graphic symbols printed on the top cover. The result is a circuit schematic which is also an operating device because the modules contain the corresponding electronic components or electrical function. The Lectron kits, which have been available since 1968 [actually since 1966 through the progenitor Egger-Bahn MWP], start with a simple basic introduction model (“Buchlabor”) to extensive experimental systems in electronics, logic algebra and cybernetics. Lectron offers, because of its possibility of a fast go-through of modifications of electronic circuits, excellent training capabilities for schools and apprenticeship programs.
Approximately one year ago [1972-MWP] the Braun Corporation in Frankfurt/Main, under whose wings the LECTRON had been guided, committed the Italian part of the Braun Lectron division to its Italian representative INELCO-Industria Elettronica Comense in Tavernerio / Como. However, the sales and distribution for Lectron in German-speaking countries, in Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxemburg), the Anglo-Saxon and the Scandinavian countries were assigned to the new Lectron Ltd. Company. Their managing director, Manfred Walter, led the Lectron division at Braun before this transition.
The Lectron Ltd. Company will continue doing the product development work and Walter is strongly committed to expand the Lectron principle and product line. An unusual process in the history of new products and their “marketing” is that a big corporation – the Braun Corporation under leadership of its major shareholder Gilette – lets a company operate, apparently not well suitable for their previous distribution channels, by a new-found family business. The ownership of Lectron Ltd. is neither connected with Braun or INELCO. INELCO itself will take care of the patents, while the Lectron Ltd. Company manages the production and the marketing outside of these boundaries.
According to Walter’s disclosures, sales may have increased 45 to 50 % per year meanwhile compared to the time before Oct. 1st, 1972. This may exceed the still remarkable growth rates in the market of technical and scientific teaching toys. Based on the observations of the industry, the customers of those experimental kits are not just adolescents but rather more and more adults mostly buying in toy stores, do-it-yourself stores and book trades.
But the main growth of the Lectron distribution results in the business with schools and apprenticeship (vocational) institutions. The strongly promoted object-lessons in basic level schools and secondary schools by the new guidelines of the different countries and the better remuneration of the schools for these subjects, increase the business with experimental systems as well as the group lessons which are promoted by more and more teachers. If the manufacturer of experimental systems choses the distribution channel of book trades, they will cooperate with publishing companies who want to enlarge their sales program on their part. Lectron with their own domicile in Frankfurt/Main might have located a partner by the Diesterweg* publishing company. In addition the Italian partner provides a completion of the sales program with audio-visual devices [I would love to know and see what those were! MWP].
[* In point of fact, the Diesterweg publishing company had at least two collaborations with Lectron, GmbH. The first was the publication of the 1974 “Funktionsmodelle – Versuche (experiments) zur biologischen Nachrichtenverarbeitung” written by Hartmut Birett, and the 1975 “Physik Experimentell” book edited by Heinz Saucke. Mr. Saucke was also the author of Braun’s Was ist Elektronik? which was the instruction book included in the Buchlabor model. Lectron (GmbH) under Manfred Walter produced the Funktionsmodelle and Physik Experimentell models.]
Translated from the German by Thomas H. Doering
Edited and annotated by Michael W. Peters
From the article dated November 17th, 1973 and appearing in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
According to Mr. Dietrich Lubs (the former Deputy Head of Design at Braun), Mr. Walter expressed an interest in continuing the business of the Lectron System product as his concern and purchased the rights at a very good price to do so, forming Lectron, GmbH.
On my trip to Germany in November of 2013, I visited the Rüsselsheimer building complex which was the first home of the Lectron System during the Braun era. The Braun executives (including Artur and Erwin Braun) were located in the building on the left in the photo below. The reader may recall that it was Erwin Braun who had championed the Braun acquisition of the Lectron System as a superior education tool to educate students about electronics. This fact was relayed to me by Dr. Rams in an interview conducted on my behalf by Mr. Lubs in September of 2014.
The photos in the carousel show what the Mr. Cahn von Seelen had to confront in transitioning what remained of the physical Lectron System assets to the RWO storehouse.