Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Dictograph Telephones

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June 1923.
December 1927.
January 1928.

of Aurelia Road, Croydon, Surrey

Kelly Monroe Turner is practically unknown to collectors, but his telephones are found worldwide.

Turner was president of the General Acoustics Company, maker of the Acousticon hearing aid, the Dictograph microphone, and the Dictograph intercom system that is the subject of this article. His system utilised a conventional, but very sensitive, microphone which he called the Metrophone. It used a larger than usual diaphragm that could pick up conversation from a reasonable distance, and so could be combined with a sensitive receiver, either a watchcase receiver or an inbuilt speaker, and used as a desktop intercom. The idea of a handsfree office telephone system caught on quickly, and Turner’s company had trouble meeting demand from their factory in Jamaica, New York.

From 1902 to 1913, the Dictograph Products Company Inc. , formed to handle the telephone part of the business, patented the basics of their system.

1907 The company and the Dictograph name were registered.

Meanwhile, in the UK, companies such as General Electric had already launched into the rental market in the late 1890s, and the New System Private Telephone Company began in the late 1890s as well. Telephone Rentals began in 1902.

The British rental phones were largely supplied by Fuld GMBH in Germany. Fuld was also renting telephones in Germany. Lamsons were well aware of this rental practice through their European companies.

In the UK, Dictograph Telephones Ltd telephone products had their longest run. Although the British phones followed a similar pattern to the US ones, there were local variations. Manufacturing for the British and colonial markets was partly undertaken by Autophone, a subsidiary of the British Home Office Telephone Co, from their factory in Wimbledon.

Another factory at Croydon supplied phones, but dates are unknown. Autophone used many imported parts in their construction, mostly brought in once again from H Fuld GMBH. Handsets were branded Dictograph. Fuld later became T and N, and some very late Dictographs have T and N-branded handsets instead. The British part of the construction was mostly the cabinet woodwork and the wiring. Final assembly was eventually moved to a factory in Coventry. Dictograph’s association with Lamsons continued, and Lamsons marketed into many colonial markets such as Australia.

1922 Advert for the 10 Key Master Station and "Six Things you never thought a Telephone could do". 1. You can telephone all your departments with both hands free, even while walking about. 2. Just flick up any key and talk. 3. No mouthpiece, no earpiece to hold. 4. The answer comes out loud and clear, but you can confine them to yourself when desired. 5. You always "get through" instantly - even if the person called is speaking to someone else - there are no "engaged" lines to you. 6. You can speak to several men on one call and see who calls you. (Stationery Section) (Stand No. D.63) [1]

1961 Installation and maintenance of intercommunication telephone systems, and manufacturers of sound reproduction equipment, staff location systems, public address systems, electric clocks and time recorders. [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Telephone Collecting Website