Development of this model started in 1972 by JYDSK in Aarhus, together with Standard Electrik Kirk. It was designed by Jacob Jensen, the famous designer responsible for a great number of classic Bang & Olufsen products. It combined a pleasing and ergonomic design with highly advanced electronic features, especially for its time.
It was well received and found its way to many different countries, under several different names. It is also one of the few telephones in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), like it’s brother the GNA F78.
Standard Electrik Kirk called it the 76E, the numbers pertaining to the year 1976 and the letter E meaning electronic. JYDSK and the other Danish telephone companies called it the DK80, initially. When developing the DK82, a derivative of the 76E JYDSK indentified the need for a name, rather than a combination of letters and numbers, and they held a competition among their employees to come up with a new name.
The winning entry was Comm et or Comm one, et meaning one in Danish. This was later adapted to Comét and used not only for the new development, the DK82, which was very similar in appearance its predecessor, but also for the DK80/76E. The 76E was also marketed under the name DIGITEL 2000, for example in France and Spain and was called Memofoon in the Netherlands. In the UK this model was called LST (loud speaking telephone) no. 10.
A concave handset over a convex body, giving it a pleasing appearance. The handset is above a handgrip, that is placed in the side of the body shell, making it easy to carry the telephone around.
Under the handset a paper label is positioned for a list of telephone numbers. On top is the button for the volume control.
The large convex surface allows for a big number of buttons, making it possible to have extra features beside number dialling. The arrangment and function of these buttons varies with the different versions. The underside has a metal plate, giving the phone more weight to prevent it from sliden when the buttons are operated.
This telephone has a number of electronic features. The most obvious is a push button dial pad, although some version still have pulse dialling. The handset has a volume control built in and the underside has an adjustment wheel for the ringer setting, allowing for different kinds of ring tone. It has an electronic ringer and a limited speaker phone function, because the microphone was not sensetive enough to pick up speach beyond a small distance, but hands free calling is possible. When the handset is placed face down on the table, a mercury switch shuts off the microphone.
Button functions may vary and interestingly some versions have a row of buttons on the right, marked A, B, C and D generating the additional 4 dtmf signals, aside from 0 – 9 and * and #. Some versions have a built in memory for number storage, requiring an additional power supply which is hard wired to the phone. And it allows dialing without picking up the handset.
My red one
There was never a red version in the inventory of the Dutch PTT, so it was not likely I was going to find one locally. However in 2017 we went on vacation to Denmark and I hoped to find one of these Danish designer telephones in red (BEOCOM, F78, 76E). Well, lady Luck upon me, as after 3 days I snapped up this red one at a flea market for € 3,50. As it had a Danish plug, I spent the rest of the vacation visiting all kinds of shops trying to find a socket for it. As landlines are very much in decline in Denmark, it was really hard to find hardware for it. And sure enough, on the very last day, one hour before we crossed the border into Germany I finally found one…….for a whopping € 13,50!