By about 1995, Mr. Manfred Walter, the founder, owner and President of Lectron, GmbH since 1972, needed help to support Lectron System order fulfillment and began to use the services of the Reha Werkstatt – Oberrad (RWO) located in Frankfurt, Germany.
The Reha Werkstatt organization is a group of sheltered workshop facilities for people experiencing mental illness issues. RW facilities produces multiple product lines and services including mail, scan and text services, bicycle products, hand puppets, textile products, and of course the Lectron System product line.
Mr. Norbert Cahn von Seelen (photo above) was the Lectron System product manager until his passing in 2016.
Mr. Andreas Schmidt is the current product manager (at the time of this writing in 2019). Mr. Steffen Pohl is the RWO Managing Director (at the time of this writing in 2019).
Mr. Cahn von Seelen’s involvement with the Lectron System at RWO goes back to 2001 when he helped relocate all the Lectron System assets and business from its last facility under Mr. Walter’s leadership at 55 Limburger Strasse in Niedernhausen to the RWO facility.
RWO is organized under the overall management of the Frankfurter Verein für soziale Heimstätten e.V. Mr. Wolfgang Trunk was very helpful to me during my initial contact by telephone and introduced me, by telephone, to Mr. Wolfgang Schrank, the deputy managing director. Ms. Eva Werft was also extremely helpful and patient with me the several times I called on the phone and also when I met her at the FVfsH offices in November of 2013 and asked to meet with Mr. Schrank during my visit to Frankfurt. Mr. Schrank himself could not have been more gracious and helpful and facilitated my visit in November of 2013 to tour the Lectron System production facility and gave me two hours of his valuable time to share his recollections with me about his association with Mr. Walter.
Mr. Schrank knew Mr. Walter very well and worked with him from 1995 until 2001. The two gentlemen had a close collaborative relationship over those years, ensuring that the Lectron system would continue to evolve and improve.
The photo below shows Mr. Schrank and me during my visit to the RWO on November 12th, 2013. Mr. Pohl graciously allowed the use of his office at RWO to conduct my interview with Mr. Schrank. I am holding a bit of history in my hands from the latest Lectron System model 1016 – Neurophysiologie 2 (at that time) to the first brochure announcing the Lectron system in 1966.
History From 2001 to 2019
By 2001, Mr. Walter found a willing partner in RWO, under Mr. Schrank’s leadership, to take over the the Lectron System business. Mr. Walter gifted (following the advice of tax advisors) the assets of the Lectron, GmbH to the RWO. The gifting approach resolved past due business tax issues in the most cost effective manner. And so began a new era of the Lectron System product lines.
After the gifting of the Lectron assets by Mr. Walter, the re-organization of the all the models and product line commenced.
The rescue and salvage operation from the 55 Limburger Strasse facility to the new RWO facility (26a Eschersheimer Landstrasse in Frankfurt am Main) was the first major task. Due to a leaking roof, much of the Lectron System inventory had to be disposed of due to mold and water damage.
On a more positive note, all the efforts of Mr. Schrank and Mr. Cahn von Seelen culminated in the RWO and the Lectron system winning the first prize at the Werkstätten Messe (fair) held in Offenbach in 2002. This event was a four day show highlighting the work and products produced by 120 sheltered workshops all over Germany. Mr. Dietrich Lubs (a senior member of the Braun Design Team under Dieter Rams) was on the show jury led by the chairman Volker Fischer. The jury awarded the First Prize to the RWO in recognition of the Lectron System. The jury noted that creating circuits of all sorts following the graphical symbols on each block made the “Lectron System ideally suited to stimulate playful learning“.
The Lectron System redesign initiative began in earnest after this fair. A Lectron System product development team was put together which included Mr. Wolfgang Schrank, Mr. Dietrich Lubs, Mr. Norbert Cahn von Seelen, and Mr. Gerd Kopperschmidt (as the lead model engineer). Mr. Walter was likely not well enough to participate on the team and he died several years later from complications due to Parkinson’s Disease. Unfortunately, the date of his passing is currently (as of 2019) unknown.
The photo below shows (from left to right) Mr. Pohl, Mr. Peters, & Mr. and Mrs. Kopperschmidt admiring the wonderful cake that we enjoyed during our July 1st, 2014 afternoon meeting. I don’t know if the cake was the best Lectron System multi-vibrator model ever made but it was certainly the most delicious!
Lectron, GmbH Today (2020)
The Lectron, GmbH (RWO) moved from the Eschersheimer address to Buchrainstrasse 18 sometime after 2010. In 2017, Lectron, GmbH offices moved to Große Seestraße 43 while the Lectron System production and assembly unit moved to Wiener Strasse 124.
Storage and production areas at the Wiener Strasse facility.
The latest packaging for the Lectron System models use several different sizes of blue or black plastic cases with a handle. A small adhesive label with a graphic and model number is used for identification on the carrying case.
The older style double tray sized tan cardboard box ceased being used in 2015 so these units have become collector items.
The cardboard boxes used the same Lectron, GmbH – MW era cover graphic but on the inside instead of the outside.
If an Expert System model is ordered, it ships in a large grey plastic container with two black latches sized to accommodate all the models needed. An Expert System is comprised of three to six models. When I ordered the Labor Spezial – 1210, all five of the individual models were shipped in that grey container. Quite heavy!
The current (as of 2020) product line is shown below. It does not include the 50th anniversary FM stereo blocks since these were never released as part of an actual model.
Sadly, there will not likely be any new models added to the lineup. Mr. Kopperschmidt retired from his role as Lectron System model engineer in 2019.