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©2004-2021 F. Dörenberg, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide. No part of this publication may be used without permission from the author.


Latest page update: July 2020 (added ref. 44B)

Previous updates:September-October 2019 (added description & pricing of 1930s "people's radio" & "people's TV" sets; added ref. 43, ref. 47)


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INTRODUCTION

Only very limited original pricing information is available for Hellschreibers and associated equipment. If you have any additional pricing information, please contact me.

Note: the provided conversions from historic prices to post year-2010 equivalent prices, are estimates by me, based on historic statistics on general inflation ("buying power") and exchange rates. Inflation for specific industrial products such as telecommunications equipment, does not necessarily track that general "consumer price index" inflation.


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SIEMENS-HALSKE 1937/52

Pricing information about the Siemens-Halske military Hell-Feldfernschreiber ("Feld-Hell") model T.typ.58 is very limited:

  • For prices quoted by Siemens to the Swedish Air Force in 1941, and book value of the Swedish Army in 1944: see further below.
  • In 1948 (i.e., post-WW2), Siemens in The Netherlands quoted a price of DFL 4295 to the Dutch news agency ANP (ref. 20B) for a Feld-Hellschreiber machine (including taxes, import duties, and shipment; import from Siemens/Sweden). In 2015 money, I have estimated this to be equivalent to 19308 Euros (US$ 21688), based on historic general inflation and exchange rate data.

The table below shows the official 1937 price list from Siemens-Halske for civil "Presse-Hell" related Hellschreiber equipment.

S-H Hellschreiber

1937 Siemens-Halske equipment prices in Reichsmark

(source: ref 1; all equipment was offered in 220 VAC, 220 VDC, 125 VAC, and 110 VDC versions)

where:

  • T send 18a: keyboard sender
  • T sum 3a, 3b: tone oscillator (incl. tubes)
  • T loch 1k: keyboard tape puncher
  • T send 17c: punch tape reader - sender (converts ITA2 code to Hellschreiber format)
  • E 415 Rö: radio receiver (incl. AC power supply, excl. tubes)
  • E376 S II: fixed-frequency receiver for battery operation (incl. tubes; for 60 - 200 kHz)
  • T verst 16: audio amplifier (incl. tubes); output power when combined with receiver: < 2 W
  • T empf 12b: Hellschreiber printer with remote control
  • Fm 359c: paper tape winder
  • T send 18b: combined Siemens-Hell sender/printer

According to the table above, the 1937 Presse Hellschreiber model T empf 12b listed for a price of 1275 Reichsmark (RM). In 1935, Siemens-Halske proposed a 1933 model T empf 12a to the London Metropolitan Police for ₤100, and a punch-tape sender for ₤250-300. Ref. 36. To put these pound-sterling prices in perspective: in 1946, the average salary in the British "metalworking, engineering and shipbuilding" industry was ₤22.40 per month (US$98.56 in 1946), ref. 35. From March 1940 on, the national German news agency (DNB) had the exclusive right to sell the Siemens-Halske "Presse Hell" machines. Per ref. 25, the 1940 price charged by DNB for such a printer was only 875 Reichsmark... See, e.g., ref. 178C for tabulated RM / US dollar / Euro conversion rates.

To put the 1937 Siemens prices in perspective: let's compare it to the price of the KdF-Wagen, the progenitor of the ubiquitous VW "Käfer" ("beetle"). This car, designed by Ferdinand Porsche (based on the production concept and complete designs "borrowed" from Josef Ganz, a jewish automobile journalist and designer, ref. 2), was advertized for under 1000 RM around that time. That represented 35 weeks of gross wages for an average factory worker. Officially, the KdF cars were sold via the Kraft durch Freude ("Strength through Joy") savings program, but none was ever delivered to the 350 thousand paying participants. Only several hundred were ever manufactured. They were delivered to high-ranking military and party officials. In 2015, the average price of a new car in Germany was 30750 Euros. This represented almost 48 weeks of average pay (32643 Euros annually. Ref. 30. In the USA, the 2015 factory workers had an average hourly rate of $11.65, and a median annual salary of $41254 (source: payscale.com). The Opel "P4" (with a 1.1 liter, 23 horsepower engine) sold for 1650 RM in 1935, and for 1450 RM in 1937. It was the most poular car in Germany in 1936.

The average monthly pay for a young "party" bureaucrat was about twice the average, and big-city teachers made something half way between the two. At Radio Mende, white-collar employees received an average monthly salary of 384 RM (169 RM for women), and managers received an average 1197 RM per month. Ref. 3. The salary of apprentices ranged from 20 RM/month (first year) to 54 RM after four years. During WW2, the standard 48-hour work week was increased to 60 hours (56 for women). Standard vacation varied between 6 and 18 days a year, based on age and seniority. Ref. 4. Wages for non-German workers, such as prisoners of war and east-European civilians, were up to 75% lower and varied with age, gender, and productivity (ref. 6). During the WW2 years, the salary levels in Germany were relatively flat, whereas in the UK and USA, they increased sharply (see Charts 33-34 in ref. 40). Examples of wages in the WW2 German aviation industry are given in ref. 41.

Wages

Hourly wages in the electronics industry of Saxony 1926-1943

(source: ref. 3 )

Wages

1945 hourly wages at factories of the NSF and Wego-Werke companies

(source: ref. 7)

Wages

Monthly wages at the Ford Werke (Ford Motor Company in Germany) during WW2

(source: ref. 6)

Wages

Various monthly wages


Wages

1935 monthly salary of Wehrmacht career & limited-term military

(source: ref. 27; also see ref. 28)

For the more fortunate, the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster could be had for a mere 28000 Reichsmark. That is, the price of 28 KdF cars. . The basic no-frills version of the famous Tiger I tank listed for 250800 RM (ref. 39). Also see ref. 43 for some original pricing of WW2 aircraft, Wehrmacht vehicles, etc.

Wages

The world's first regular radio broadcast took place in November of 1919 in The Netherlands, by an engineer with a rather long name: Hans Henricus Schotanus à Steringa Idzerda. The first radio broadcast in Germany took place over a year later, in December of 1920. Radio reception by private individuals was illegal until 1923, when the annual "Radiogebühr" (radio license fee) was introduced. The initial fee was a hefty 25 Reichsmark per year and per radio set! In 1924, the annual fee was raised to 60 RM, only to be reduced to 2 RM per month (until the 1960s). Mass production of radios started in 1933 with "Volks Empfänger" (people's receiver) model "VE 301", ref. 44A, 44B. Here, "301" refers to 30 January of that year, the date on which Mr. A. Hitler's was appointed as Chancellor (sometimes referred to as the Seizure of Power ("Machtergreifung"), though effectively, that was mid-1933). The VE was part of the regime's systematic domestic propaganda and sole-source information machine. This medium and longwave receiver was initially sold for 76 RM. It dropped to 59 RM in 1937. In 1933, 29 radio manufacturers were obliged to manufacture the radio, designed by long-time party member Otto Grießling of the Gerätefabrik Dr. Seibt company (ref. 29). Later, another ten manufacturers in Austria and occupied Poland also made the VE. By 1936, over 1.3 million such VE radios were sold. A large number of variations were built, primarily differing in electrical power sourcing ("G" for "Gleichstrom" (DC), "W" for "Wechselstrom" (AC), "GW" for "Allstrom" (AC/DC), "B" for "Batterie") and the type of loudspeaker ("Dyn" for "dynamisch" (low-impedance electro-dynamic, permanent magnetic), replacing the cheaper "freischwinger" (high-impedance electro-magnetic speaker), and finally "n" for "neu" (new). In 1938, a simplified VE was developed: Deutscher Kleinempfänger model DKE 1938. It sold for 35 RM. The VE pricing was artificial, and obtained by forcing radio tube (valve) manufacturers to significantly reduce their prices for the government's VE. Standard retail prices for tubes ranged from 6 RM for a simple rectifier tube, to about 23 RM for a high power audio or HF amplifier tube (ref. 45, 47). Note that around 1937, the commercial radio manufacturers made over 200 non-VE models, with prices ranging from about 100 to 850 RM (ref. 46) - not affordable for the general population, in particlar the large working class.

Wages

There was also a "people's TV": the "Einheits-Fernseh-Empfänger" ("standard TV receiver"), model E1 (ref. 48). It was developed by an industry working group that was headed up by the Reichspostzentralamt (RPZ) and the Forschungsanstalt der Deutschen Reichspost (RPF), and included major TV manufacturers: Fernseh AG (subsidiary of Bosch/Blaupunkt), Radio AG D.S. Loewe (Löwe Radio AG), C. Lorenz AG, Telefunken, and Süddeutsche Telefon-Apparate-, Kabel- und Drahtwerke A.G. (TeKaDe, TKD). The E1 was presented at the 1939 annual Funkausstelung expo in Berlin, by each of the companies, with their own version of the design. This single-channel receiver was intended for reception of the Reich's VHF TV channel "Paul Nipkow" in Berlin. Per the 1938 German TV standard ("Fernsehnorm"), the image had 441 lines, and an image frequency of 25 Hz (50 Hz interlacing of two half-images). The screen was nearly square, and had a diagonal of 29 cm (≈ 11.4 inch). The initial sales price was 650 RM. A large production volume was planned, but series production was cancelled due to restrictions imposed on the civil industry, upon the outbreak of WW2. Other now-common electrical houshold equipment items were not exactly inexpensive either: a primitive 1929 Miele "Model A" dishwasher cost 400-450 RM, and a 1933 Bosch refrigerator with a 60 liter volume cost 365 RM.

The above price list and wage data might suggest that Hellschreiber equipment was very expensive. However, this is all relative. Keep in mind that the competition of Hellschreibers was conventional teleprinters. Compared to those, the Hellschreibers were actually quite inexpensive:

  • Siemens teleprinter model T37: I still need original pricing of this model. This model was built 1931-1945.
  • Siemens teleprinter model T37: I still need original pricing of this model. This model was built 1933-1960.
  • Siemens teleprinter model T68: I still need original pricing of this model. This model was built 1951-1960.
  • 1970 Siemens teleprinter model T100: ≈10000 Deutsche Mark (DM, ca. €17000 in 2014), about 6 months wages of a reasonably well paid worker. This model was built 1958 - ca. 1980.
  • 1980 Siemens teleprinter model T100: ≈11000 DM (ca. €11500 in 2014).
  • 1979 Siemens teleprinter model T1000: 12620 DM (ca. €14000 in 2014); this model was built 1976 - 1985.

Volkswagen "Käfer" Beetle (basic German model):

  • 1948: 5300 DM (€10044 in 2014)
  • 1955-1960: 4600 DM (€8670-€7930 in 2014)
  • 1961: 4740 DM (€7979 in 2014)
  • 1962: 4980 DM (ca. €10000 in 2014)

Volkswagen Golf (basic German model):

  • 1976: 13850 DM (ca. €17000 in 2014)
  • 1980: 10955 DM (ca. €12000 in 2014)

Sources for the above teleprinter and Volkswagen prices: ref. 8. Source for the DM to Euro inflation and conversion data: ref. 9.

Early 2015, I located archived correspondence between Siemens, the Dutch news agency ANP, and Swiss company EMA (manufacturer of instruments and teleprinters), in the National Archives of The Netherlands in The Hague. I visited the Archives in August of 2015, and copied about 75 documents. A number of them include price quotations and invoices (ref. 20A-21J), including taxes, import duties (12-30%!), and shipment. I have summarized this is the table below. I have added my estimates of what the equivalent prices would be in today's money (2015), based on historic statistics on general inflation ("buying power") and exchange rates. Note that inflation for specific industrial products such as telecommunications equipment, does not necessarily track that general "consumer price index" inflation.

S&H Hell prices

The table above list a price of DFL 0.37 for a roll of paper tape. This is corroborated by ref. 171d from late 1948, which mentions that the ANP news agency paid it regular supplier in Rotterdam DFL 37.00 per 100 rolls, but that the Dutch publishing company AP in Amsterdam had a local supplier who only charged about half as much (DFL 19.48).

As a reference, in 1950, the average gross annual income in The Netherlands was DFL 3030, and an average car cost DFL 5000 (only 1 in 75 people owned a car). Ref. 21A, 21B. Source for historic DFL to Euro conversion data: Internationaal instituut voor sociale geschiedenis. Source historic Euro inflation rates: global-rates.com.

During the 1950s and 60s, Siemens built several start-stop Hellschreiber models: T.empf.39, and the T.typ.72 & 73. The T.typ.72 sender/printer cost about 5000 DM (ref. 24) in the mid-1950s. This is equivalent to an estimated 9500 Euros in 2015, based on general consumer price index inflation statistics (ref. 23B). During the mid-1970s, used T.typ.72c machines were sold in Germany for 200-400 DM (an estimated 255-610 Euros in 2015).


TELEFUNKEN

By 1938, Telefunken (a 1930 joint venture of Siemens-Halske and AEG) developed the "E 38" radio receiver for the German DNB news agency for use with their "Presse-Hell" printers. These radios were sold by DNB for 400 Reichsmark (RM) - without the vacuum tubes! The price with the tubes was 470.65 RM (ref. 26). The 1937 Siemens-Halske pricing information provided above, may be used by the reader to estimate the price in today's money.


HELL COMPANY 1948

In 1947, Rudolf Hell re-established his war-torn company for telecommunications and electronic image reproduction equipment. However, now in Kiel (port city in the far north of Germany), rather than the original locations in the then Soviet-occupied part of Berlin. In the spring of 1948, the Hell company built a small batch of a new, compact printer-only model: the Hellschreiber-Empfänger 5, (HE 5). The list price was 5500 Reichsmark. In June of 1948, West Germany went through a currency reform ("Währungsreform"): the transition from the Reichsmark (RM) and the "Besatzungsmark" banknotes issued by the occupying Allied military authorities, to the Deutsche Mark (DM). The general conversion rate was 10:1, but 1:1 for company stocks, salaries, pensions, rents, and 100:6.5 for cash and savings. After the reform, the HE 5 cost 550 DM. After the first batch was sold, the color of the HE 5 was changed, and the model name changed to HE 6. The price was raised to 650 DM. Ref. 23A. These prices are equivalent to an estimated 1000 Euros and 1250 Euros respectively in 2015, based on general consumer price index inflation statistics (ref. 23B).


SWISS ARMY 1940/41

The Swiss army also acquired Hellschreiber equipment from Siemens-Halske. In 1940/41, they bought 30 "Presse Hell" Hellschreibers (models T empf 12 and T empf 14). The equipment was used in type A, B, and C mobile communication units ("Stationen"), ref. 10:

  • "A Station": = Grosse 1,2 kW Kurzwellenstationn - large 1.2 kW short-wave station (G1,2K = SE-303)
  • "B Station": Grosse 1,5 kW Kurzwellenstation - large 1.5 kW short-wave station (G1,5K = SE-302)
  • "C Station": Grosse 3 kW Langwellenstation - large 3 kW long-wave station (G3L = SE-404)

Swiss Army Hellschreiber

G1,5K "Stationswagen" in 1940 (2nd production series)

(source: p. 83 in ref. 11)

Early "Stationen" (serial numbers 1 - 6) had slightly different equipment from later units (serial numbers 15 and above, cf. Section III in ref. 10):

Swiss Army Hellschreiber

Hellschreiber workstation in a "Funkwagen" - serial number 1 - 6

(1: "Handlocher", 2: "Rohrsummer", 7: "Hellschreiber T empf 12a", 8: "Lochstreifengeber T send 17", 10: Lorenz "Allwellenempfänger EO 509/I")

Swiss Army Hellschreiber

Hellschreiber workstation in a B-Station "Funkwagen" - serial number 15 and above

(4: "Handlocher", 6: "Rohrsummer", 7: "Hellschreiber", 8: "Lochstreifengeber", 17: "Empfangstastgerät", 18: Zellweger "Allwellenempfänger", 19: Hellschreiber)

The Hellschreiber was first introduced in 1937 on the C-Stations, then in 1939 on the B-Stations (p. 14/30 in ref. 10A, ref. 11). Early versions of the "Stationen" (serial numbers 1-6) comprised a T empf 12 Hell-printer, a T sum 3a tone oscillator, a T verst 16a/b/d amplifier, and a Lorenz model EO509 15 kHz - 20 MHz "Allwellenempfänger" general-coverage radio receiver (ref. 12). For stations with serial numbers 15 and above, the system comprised a T empf 14 Hell-printer, a T sum 5a tone oscillator, a T verst 18a keying device, and a 100 kHz - 60 MHz AM/CW "Allwellenempfänger" receiver type E41, made by the Zelweger company of Uster/Switzerland (ref. 13). All systems included a keyboard tape puncher ("Handlocher"), and a Hellschreiber punch tape reader/sender ("Lochstreifensender").

The book price for a complete system was 13300 Swiss Francs (ref. 14; ≈65000 Euros early 2011, ref. 15). This included:

  • Hellschreiber printer: 2335 SF (≈€11400)
  • Lochstreifengeber (punch tape sender); 6930 SF (≈€33875)
  • Rohrsummer (tone oscillator): 548 SF (≈€2670)
  • Schreibverstärker (printer amplifier: 520 SF (≈€2640)
  • Netzverteiler (switch box for audio and electrical power): 120 SF (≈€590)

The following photo shows the equipment set of fixed-base station. On the top shelf (left to righ): T sum 3a tone oscillator, three signal and power switch boxes, and a T.verst.16 amplfier. On the desk top (left to right): a Lorenz EO509 radio, a T empf 12b Hellschreiber printer, an unidentified electronics box, and a T send 17c punch tape Hell sender.

Swiss Army Hellschreiber

Hellschreiber field-system "36" in 1941

(source: p. 89 in ref. 11; location: Swiss Army Kdo. III AK in Lucerne)

The Hellschreiber systems "Hellschreiber-Anlage HS 41" were used until 1944, when it was decided that Hellschreiber communication was not dependable enough for Swiss military operations, though it was shown that this was primarily caused by shortcomings of the Lorenz EO 509 receiver, by improper equipment operation (no operator training whatsoever, per p. 71 in ref. 11) and tedious Swiss operating procedures (pp. 15/16, note 52 on p. 30, and note 12 on p. 50 in ref. 11). In 1948, the Hellschreibers were replaced with high-speed Morse telegraphy printers (p. 16 in ref. 11).


JAPANESE ARMY 1941

In May and June of 1941, the Japanese Vice Minister of War, Rikugun Jikan, was in Berlin to negotiate purchases of goods and manufacturing rights. On 7 June 1941, a military attaché message ("air wire / radio telegram") was sent from Tokyo by Hszry (War Office Senior Adjutant) to Rikugun. The message comprised a shopping list of Lorenz and Siemens-Halske equipment, including a Siemens-Halske Feld Fernschreiber (two, if availability permits). Ref. 19.

Unfortunately, no pricing information is included in the available messages...


SWEDISH ARMY/AIR FORCE 1941

The Swedish army bought both mobile and office Hellschreiber systems. The mobile systems comprised a Hell Feldfernschreiber ("Hellskrivare för fältbruk"), two lead-acid batteries (85 Ah capacity each), and a keying device. The set was referred to as "Sats Tc 33". The set's original stock number was "Tc 90240", later "M3936-105211". The keying device had stock number stock number "Tc 20033", later "M3936-105219".

Early 1941, Siemens-Halske quoted a price of 42400 Swedish Crowns (SEK) to the Swedish Air Force for eight complete Feldfernschreiber systems, similar to the systems already delivered to the Swedish Army (ref. 16). I.e., 5300 SEK per Feld-Hell set. This is equivalent to an estimated 10537 Euros at the end of 2010 (ref. 18). The 1944 book price for a complete Feld-Hell system of the Swedish Army was 6100 SEK. Ref. 18. This is estimated to be equivalent to about €12125 and US$15000 in 2010 (ref. 17).

Feld-Hell systems entered service in the Swedish Army in 1942. They were used with several types of mobile stations: 75 W Tp, 250 W Bl, and the 800 W Bl. See the Feld-Hell "Performance" page. The Hell equipment was decommissioned in the early 1960s and replaced by 5-bitstart-stop teleprinters (Siemens T.typ.68, Swedish designator "Fjärrskrivmaskin M 3").

The "desktop" office systems comprised a "Handlocher" tape puncher, a "Lochstreifensender" tape reader/sender, and a "Presse Hell" printer. n 1943, a price of 10200 SEK was quoted for each office Hell system (ca. €20280 on 2010). The 1944 book price for a complete Feld-Hell system of the Swedish Army was 6100 SEK. Ref. 12D. This is estimated to be equivalent to about €12125 and US$15000 in 2010 (ref. 17). In 1943, a price of 10200 SEK was quoted for each office Hell system (ca. €20280 on 2010).


EMA 1946-1951

The Swiss company EMA built at least four Hellschreibers models (HSG2, HS125, HPr3, and HPr4) during the late 1940s, early 1950s.

EMA logo

Customers of EMA included the Dutch news agency ANP (Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau) and the Dutch P.T.T. Early 2015, I located archived correspondence between these three parties in the National Archives of The Netherlands in The Hague. I visited the Archives in August of 2015, and copied about 75 documents. A number of them include price quotations and invoices (ref. 22A-22N), including taxes, import duties, and shipment. I have summarized this in the table below. I have added my estimates of what the equivalent prices would be in today's money (2015), based on historic statistics on general inflation ("buying power") and exchange rates. Note that inflation for specific industrial products such as telecommunications equipment, does not necessarily track that general "consumer price index" inflation.

EMA prices

(source of Swiss inflation data: fxtop.com)

The estimated equivalent equipment prices in 2015 may seem excessive. However, when considering what the original 1946-1951 prices were, in terms of average salaries at the time, they may not be all that unrealistic... As a reference, in 1950, the average gross income in The Netherlands was DFL 3030, and an average car cost DFL 5000 (only 1 in 75 people owned a car). Ref. 21A, 21B. Source for historic DFL to Euro conversion data: Internationaal instituut voor sociale geschiedenis. Source historic Euro inflation rates: global-rates.com.


BRITISH "GENERAL POST OFFICE" 1948

Ca. 1948, the British General Post office (G.P.O.) ordered at least 70 sets of British-built Hell-equipment, on behalf of the Foreign Office, the Colonial Office, and the Commonwealth Relations Office. The associated pricing information is provided below:

GPO

1948 prices of British Hell-equipment

(sources: 1 = ref. 32A, 2 = ref. 33A, 3 = ref. 33B, 4 = ref. 33C, 5 = ref. 34A)

To put these prices in perspective: in 1946, the average salary in the British "metalworking, engineering and shipbuilding" industry was £22.40 per month (US$98.56 in 1946), ref. 35. Based on general inflation data (ref. 36), this is equivalent to ca. £806 in 2016 (ca. €930 and US$1005). A Morse operator made about £300-400 a year in 1949 (ref. 33D). So, at the time, a Hell-printer represented several months’ salary of an average worker – as did German Hell-equipment in Germany. A "telex" teleprinter, including "adaptor" [ = 2-tone filter unit] cost £350, which is significantly more expensive than a set of Hell equipment (ref. 26A, 160A).


MODERN DAY AUCTIONS

On a regular basis, I am asked what a particular Hellschreiber equipment (or part thereof) may be worth. Clearly, the old adage holds true: "It is worth what a fool will pay for it!" But I realize that this truth is not very helpful... Obviously, the worth depends on many things: how many / how often similar items appear on the market, how popular or sought-after the item is, where the item is located (transportation cost), the state the equipment is in, etc. The latter ranges from "complete, unmodified, original, no markings removed, as-new, operational, including all official accessories" to "damaged, only suitable to be canibalized for parts".

I have collected a number of prices that were paid at auction (primarily on-line such as eBay, some from auction houses such as Hermann Historica, Militärische Antiquitäten Emig, and C&T Auctioneers. Note: I do not endorse any of these auction companies. I have listed these prices (with item description) in ref. 38.

REFERENCES


Note 1: due to copyright reasons, this file is in a password-protected directory. Contact me if you need access for research or personal study purposes.

External links last checked: January 2016


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