1901 - Lorimer Automatic Telephone

4-switch system

1901 Lorimer Automatic Telephone 4-switch system

Condition

Outstanding original condition, reproduced crank.

Comments

Extremely rare, c. 1901

 

This telephone is from 1901 and it is not only extremely rare, it is also historically significant. It is a Lorimer Automatic Telephone System desk set and it was invented, built and installed by the Lorimer brothers-Hoyt, George William and Egbert- of Brantford, Ontario. It used a manual switching system that helped lay the groundwork for the automatic dial telephone.

The Lorimer Telephone System allowed callers to bypass a switchboard when making calls. Just like the Strowger Automatic Dial, the Lorimer telephone signaled the beginning of the dial telephone era and posed a serious threat to Western Electric made Bell Telephones (who waited until 1919 to introduce their first automatic dial telephone).

It is fascinating to note that the Lorimer patent was acquired by Western Electric (Bell) in 1903 and shortly thereafter, Lorimer's telephones were destroyed. Monopolies work in mysterious ways, but clearly Bell did not like the competitive threat of the automatic dial being introduced before they were ready. So, they bought the patents, took the knowledge they had just acquired and then shut the competitive company down.

This Lorimer telephone is a fantastic testiment to the spirit of free enterprise. It is in outstanding original condition.