Home » Entertainment » Following the trace to the telephone of our childhood: original or copy? | ICON Design

Following the trace to the telephone of our childhood: original or copy? | ICON Design

If there is an invention that we bless these days of quarantine is the phone and all its descendants. In our instagram account We collected some mythical models, from Ericsson’s Ericofon, designed by Hugo Blomberg, Ralph Lysell and Hans Gösta Thames in the late 1940s and which is part of the MoMA collection, even Mount Teide, that model that replaced the Herald in our homes, that wheel phone, almost always gray, that serves as an anchor to be aware of our own evolution.

Remembering this mythical model of the nineties with square shapes, whose red version was perhaps the most coveted, and verifying that there is no information in Spain about who designed this important piece of our childhood motivated one of these chain investigations that only one can afford. in long confinements. This is what I have been able to find out about Teide, thanks to a clue that one of our followers has provided on our Instagram profile, @ eme.jotas: “Wasn’t Teide a copy of Unifoon?”.

Starting in 1975, the development of microelectronics led to push phones, which unleash the possibilities of design, which in turn introduced color to these devices, which until then had been invariably gray, after a period of black terminals cockroach. Formal freedom coincides in time with artistic movements such as postmodernism and groups of designers willing to strip design of that solemnity, that quintespection that it had clothed itself during the Modern Movement.

phone teide spain 90s

‘Huge’ phone by Ettore Sottsass, leader of the Memphis group.

Any object could be fun as well as useful: humor and play enter houses thanks to industrial design with groups like Memphis. From there came designs like the Telephone Huge, by Ettore Sottsass for Brondi (1986), the Lego model for Tyco, or the Beocom 1000, by Bang & Olufsen.

phone teide spain 90s

Lego model for Tyco.

All this explains why, without asking for forgiveness, a red telephone enters the Spanish houses of the late eighties, an element hitherto reserved for private lines and top-secret conversations of positions of power in the world. El Teide, distributed in Spain by Telefónica and produced by S.E.S.A., was not a design of its own, and it can almost be said that it belongs to no one, since the models of this angular phone were copying and evolving among telephone companies in Europe.

phone teide spain 90s

Beocom 1000 by Bang & Olufsen.

The first reference that exists of a device with this silhouette is that of a model from the Belgian ATEA, developed in the 1970s, which also opened the company doors to markets such as India, China or the then-unified Yugoslavia, according to the information listed on the ATEA Museum website. Of all, the 8000 model, a business switchboard, and the domestic 8100, available even in leather, were the most successful.

phone teide spain 90s

ATEA Model 8000, launched in Belgium in the 1970s. |

It was precisely the leather model that led to the development of the U77 model, the standard of the Belgian state-owned telephone company, RTT, in the late 1970s, which produced both ATEA and its competitor, BTMC, with a single differentiating element: the letter A or B engraved on the bottom of the device to distinguish who had manufactured it, according to the account on its website vintage telephone collector and restorer Arwin Schaddelee, specialized in devices used in the Netherlands, including the Unifoon, which we finally reached.

phone teide spain 90s

enlarge photo
Advertising of model 8100, the domestic version of ATEA. Enlarge the image.

This design, together with the Ericsson Diavox, was included in the catalog of the Dutch government telecommunications company, PTT, in 1981, by BTMC, which owned the Dutch manufacturer NSEM, as it tells on its website another Dutch collector, Freerk Kuperus, telecommunications engineer. Unlike the 8000, the Unifoon had the black keys and with more relief, like the Spanish Teide. Meanwhile, different versions of the ATEA Model 8000 were replicated in the United Kingdom (Rhapsody) and in the United States, where limited units were sold.

phone teide spain 90s

BTMC’s U77 for RTT, Belgium’s state-owned telecommunications company (late 1970s).

phone teide spain 90s

Publicity for PTT 1983, the official Dutch telephone company, with Ericsson’s Diavox models on the left and BTMC’s Unifoon on the right.

Spain is the only country that adapted this design with grooves in the upper part of the keyboard. A possible reference to the 76E model, by Danish designer Jacon Jensen for Kirk Standard Electric, from 1976, whose keyboard is very similar to Unifoon and Teide, although its silhouette was clearly rounded.

phone teide spain 90s

Rhapsody, the British version of the ATEA Model 8000.

With this Teide, red, white or baseball, we not only left wheel marking behind, we also discovered the pad, long before the Internet reached our homes.

phone teide spain 90s

76E, by Jacob Jensen for Kirk Standard Electric (1976).


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