ISKRA ETA 80 (81, 82)

ISKRA ETA 80
ISKRA ETA 80
ISKRA ETA 80 side
ISKRA ETA 80 side

An extraordinary and prizewinning design from the former Yugoslavia: the ISKRA ETA model 80. It resembles the wedge shaped sports cars from the 70s and 80s and is the embodiment of sleek. It was first shown at the Ljubjana’s  Electronics Fair in 1978 under the name Olimpik and won several design awards. It is even in the collection in the Museum of Modern art, one of only a hand full of telephones taken into that collection.

ISKRA ETA 80 handgrip
ISKRA ETA 80 handgrip

It is often called just ISKRA, but that is actually the manufacturers name. It is an ETA 80, ETA standing for Electronic Telephone Apparatus and 80 is probably a reference to the 1980s. ETA 80 refers to the whole range of this model, where variants are numbered 81, 82, 83 etc. 85 and upwards are touch tone versions, but otherwise it is unclear to me at this time what the differences are between those versions. Unfortunately the exact model number on my is no longer legible.

ISKRA ETA 80 base
ISKRA ETA 80 base

ISKRA is an electronics company situated in Kranj, Slovenia. When the ETA 80 was produced it was part of Yugoslavia. ISKRA means spark, perhaps a reference to early radio technology. In German for example the word for radio is Funkgerät, spark apparatus. The spark gap transmitter was the first device to demonstrate practical radio transmissions in the 19th century.

The ETA 80 came in a range of colours, with fortunately red being one of them. J The handset, cords and dial (or push buttons) are usually black, with a coloured body. There are illegal copies and fakes of this model. The real ones usually have the word ISKRA on the front.

ISKRA ETA 80 inside
ISKRA ETA 80 inside

It is entirely made of plastic, with a printed circuit board inside. It has a small electronic ringer, which permits this model to be so exceptionally low. Like many rotary dial telephones from this era, it has a handgrip at the back, making it easy to lift. The handset is comfortable to use and easy to hold between head and shoulder. As you can see, mine is a red one. It is in good condition, but unfortunately it does not have a diagram and the label with the exact model number and other specifications is illegible. Besides this specimen, I have a fake push button version of this telephone made by Mytel.

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