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Early years

Johann Kapsch founded a precision mechanics workshop in Vienna’s Neubau district in 1892. From the beginning, the postal and telegraph authorities were amongst the most important customers. The devices and services of Kapsch proved themselves and the small workshop grew over 20 years into a sizeable operation. In 1912, Kapsch had a factory built on premises which it owned in the Meidling district of Vienna. The First World War initially had no effect on the company’s growth; telecommunications equipment was needed by the railways and postal services as well as the army.

 
Telephone with Toggle Switch

around 1900

A toggle switch was used to transfer calls between telephones within a building. Dialing was carried out with the rotary handle, and the white button made the phone ring.


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Rainproof Alarm Clock

1910, Excerpt from price list no. 1

The 1910 catalog presented Kapsch’s comprehensive product range in those years: It included, amongst others, measuring devices, lightning rods, batteries and capacitors as well as doorbells and alarm clocks.


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Table Button

 


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Klagenfurt Inter-Urban Telephone Exchange

around 1910, Photograp


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‘Divers’ Devices

1910, Excerpt from price list no. 2

Kapsch offered a complete telephone connection between divers and the team above water: An underwater telephone was installed in the diver’s helmet; the above-water telephone featured a connection coupling and an automatic off switch.


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Hughes Printing Telegraph

1912

The telegraph consisted of a piano-style keyboard with letters, numbers and punctuation marks. In contrast to the Morse telegraph, a directly readable ‘clear text’ could be printed on paper strips. The telegraph was used by the postal and telegraph authorities; it was developed by David Edward Hughes in 1855.


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New Factory Building

1913, Photograph

A state-of-the-art factory building was constructed in Vienna’s Meidling district on the corner of Johann-Hofmann-Platz/Wittmayergasse, between 1912 and 1913. The company’s first factory on its own premises with large, bright rooms made efficient production possible. Ernst Epstein (1881-1938), who designed numerous residential and industrial buildings in Vienna during this time, was responsible for the architecture.

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Central Telephone Switch

1914, Ink drawing

Before the First World War, Kapsch established itself in a new field, the construction of telephone and telegraph switchboards. Its early projects included the construction of a telegraph booth at Vienna’s Westbahnof railway station.


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Articles of Association of Kapsch

1916, Draft from 1914, approved in 1916

In 1904, Johann Kapsch’s three sons founded the company Kapsch & Söhne together with their father. This officially announced the leap from the simple mechanic’s business into ‘industrial operations’. The prerequisites for a joint stock company are explained in the articles of association.

Portable Telegraph Relief Writer

1915

The relief writer offered two advantages: first of all, all components were mounted on a panel, making the device easily transportable. Secondly, the writer left an embossment on the paper – which was especially advantageous for the military as it allowed information to be analyzed without a light source.


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Share with a Value of 200 Crowns

1916

After the beginning of the First World War, Kapsch supplied products almost exclusively to the army. While this allowed the company to significantly increase its sales, it became more and more dependent on the military, which paid its bills very lately, if at all. The expansion of its financial framework may have been one of the reasons why the company was converted to a joint stock company in June of 1916 and three bank directors joined the board of directors.

Microphone Cassette M7

1916

This field telephone included an interrupt wheel with a battery box mounted on the back. In contrast to the heavy earth telephones, this field telephone could be carried by soldiers.

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Wireless Earth Telephone

1918

Wireless communication during the First World War still required a great deal of support. Alongside voice communication, army telephones could also transmit signals using Morse Code.

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Inductor Telephone Ö10

1920

To make a call, the crank of this telephone had to be turned. The crank caused an inductor to move which generated electricity. The electricity for speaking was supplied by batteries.


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Tabletop Telephone for Battery Calls

1920

This household telephone set was wholly battery-powered. It featured a call button for two-way call and voice transmission.


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Johann Kapsch (Bronze relief)

1921, Bronze Relief

Johann Kapsch was born in 1845 in the Carniola/Kranjska region (now in Slovenia). He moved to Vienna to complete an apprenticeship as a mechanic. At the age of 47, he decided to open his own mechanical workshop. Johann Kapsch died in September 1921 at the age of 76. He worked for the company up until his death, most recently as a member of the board of directors.