Siemens & Halske Fg Tist 261/264 “Trommelwähler

Fg Tist 264
Fg Tist 264

6 Reacties

  1. Dear Arwin,

    I read your “help me” page regarding that odd pull down dial alike that of the Trommelwähler. These look odd but are indeed quite regular dial mechanisms. Did you find the courage to open your Trommelwähler and get a good look at it? You will find, that it is basically the N38 mechanism with a few adjustments to accomodate the smaller turn angle of the pull down dial. Siemens achieved that by integrating a fixed gear ratio.

    The folklore has it, that these dials were primarily designed for telephone exchanges and the “Fräulein vom Amt”, who had to dial quite a large number of times each day and it was deemed to be more ergonomic to have one low force pull down movement (hence the fixed gear) instead of high force circular movement. At the German collector’s forum there is talk that this mechanism has already been conceived in the early to mid 1930s and was to be largely implemented in new installs of high capacity and long distance exchanges, for example in large cities like Berlin, Hamburg or München, especially if there was a mixture of automatic and manual exchanges that had to be connected through human operators. It must have been due to that rather unfortunate political climax also known as the 2nd world war that this didn’t proceed as planned. After the war and the ensuing shortages, there was no incentive to resume manufacturing specialities if there already was a simple solution that did more than just one trick and thus, the pull down dials were shelved for the moment. In the 1950s, as the economy gathered momentum, human operated exchanges were of course a necessity but the progress was towards automation. So I suppose the pull down dial never came to its fame and fortune as it might have been appropriate. However, as it is so often the case, the designs departments really like oddball technical solutions and as a matter of fact the pull down dial came to a second life in a fancy phone for design affine people of the 50s, who unfortunately didn’t appreciate its beauty as expected. Consequentially, the Trommelwähler was discontinued after a few years, as the more conventional but even more elegant 282 came about.

    Then there are some flaws to the design. First, the choice of a number of shallow and rounded recesses over rather defined holes certainly poses the risk of aborted and erratic dials. As there is no finger stop, it is possible to unintentionally overpull the dial, expecially if there are longer fingernails involved. One might argue, at least from the humourous standpoint, that this dial was constructed by single men who hadn’t in mind the needs of fashionable young ladies who manned the telephone exchanges and who tended to have appealingly polished finger nails… (no sexism intended)
    Also, due to the addional gears, the design was more integrated than the conventional dial mechanisms which is from today’s perspective on integration ridiculous, but didn’t lead to this dial mechanism being exactly loved by maintenance technicians.

    In my personal oppinion, the Trommelwähler was — from a standpoint of reason — an unnecessary phone. Though being aimed towards design-conscious people, it somehow lacked the necessary appeal to them, which might have been down to the rather industrial design, that a) the pull down dial polarises and b) the “craddle” resembles scales you would have found in a typical 1950s grocery store. Its successor, the 282, features more appealing lines and seems more fitting to a late 50s design interior if the owners ever chose modern design over the more conservative oak and upholstery that the masses preferred. That said, I like the Trommelwähler. I somehow regret not having bought one, when I had the chance to do so at even a rather small prize, given that they are quite rare, especially in good condition, as the craddle is of the EC2B (easy to break) type on bakelite bodies. And in fact, I might spot a rather nasty crack and some chip on the edge, as your Trommelwähler must unfortunately have suffered making the shocking experience of gravity?

    Kind Regards,
    Alex

  2. Dear Arwin,

    I’ve read your “help me” page and wrote a rather long comment on the pull down dial. I wonder, is there a character limit to the comments on your page? As I hit the postings button, the text is gone and I don’t receive the “comment under moderation” output…

    Kind Regards,
    Alex

    • Sorry, something went wrong. I see no post from you other than this one under the Trommelwähler article.
      (I’ll look at your other post later, on the Weltruf dial).

      • Luckily, Firefox kept it in the cache, so it’s not lost. I suppose, there is a character limit active in the website’s software somewhere, which I guess is a very sensible thing. If you don’t mind, I’ll split the comment into two parts.

        I read your “help me” page regarding that odd pull down dial alike that of the Trommelwähler. These look odd but are indeed quite regular dial mechanisms. Did you find the courage to open your Trommelwähler and get a good look at it? You will find, that it is basically the N38 mechanism with a few adjustments to accomodate the smaller turn angle of the pull down dial. Siemens achieved that by integrating a fixed gear ratio.

        The folklore has it, that these dials were primarily designed for telephone exchanges and the “Fräulein vom Amt”, who had to dial quite a large number of times each day and it was deemed to be more ergonomic to have one low force pull down movement (hence the fixed gear) instead of high force circular movement. At the German collector’s forum there is talk that this mechanism has already been conceived in the early to mid 1930s and was to be largely implemented in new installs of high capacity and long distance exchanges, for example in large cities like Berlin, Hamburg or München, especially if there was a mixture of automatic and manual exchanges that had to be connected through human operators. It must have been due to that rather unfortunate political climax also known as the 2nd world war that this didn’t proceed as planned. After the war and the ensuing shortages, there was no incentive to resume manufacturing specialities if there already was a simple solution that did more than just one trick and thus, the pull down dials were shelved for the moment. In the 1950s, as the economy gathered momentum, human operated exchanges were of course a necessity but the progress was towards automation. So I suppose the pull down dial never came to its fame and fortune as it might have been appropriate. However, as it is so often the case, the designs departments really like oddball technical solutions and as a matter of fact the pull down dial came to a second life in a fancy phone for design affine people of the 50s, who unfortunately didn’t appreciate its beauty as expected. Consequentially, the Trommelwähler was discontinued after a few years, as the more conventional but even more elegant 282 came about.

        You might want to look at the database at the German collector’s forum at http://www.wasser.de/telefon-alt/datenbank/index.pl?kategorie=1000249
        which has just recently been brought back to life.

  3. Continuation:

    Then there are some flaws to the design. First, the choice of a number of shallow and rounded recesses over rather defined holes certainly poses the risk of aborted and erratic dials. As there is no finger stop, it is possible to unintentionally overpull the dial, expecially if there are longer fingernails involved. One might argue, at least from the humourous standpoint, that this dial was constructed by single men who hadn’t in mind the needs of fashionable young ladies who manned the telephone exchanges and who tended to have appealingly polished finger nails… (no sexism intended)
    Also, due to the addional gears, the design was more integrated than the conventional dial mechanisms which is from today’s perspective on integration ridiculous, but didn’t lead to this dial mechanism being exactly loved by maintenance technicians.

    In my personal oppinion, the Trommelwähler was — from a standpoint of reason — an unnecessary phone. Though being aimed towards design-conscious people, it somehow lacked the necessary appeal to them, which might have been down to the rather industrial design, that a) the pull down dial polarises and b) the “craddle” resembles scales you would have found in a typical 1950s grocery store. Its successor, the 282, features more appealing lines and seems more fitting to a late 50s design interior if the owners ever chose modern design over the more conservative oak and upholstery that the masses preferred. That said, I like the Trommelwähler. I somehow regret not having bought one, when I had the chance to do so at even a rather small prize, given that they are quite rare, especially in good condition, as the craddle is of the EC2B (easy to break) type on bakelite bodies. And in fact, I might spot a rather nasty crack and some chip on the edge, as your Trommelwähler must unfortunately have suffered making the shocking experience of gravity?

    Kind Regards,
    Alex

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