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Tandbergs Radiofabrikk
Tandberg Data
Tandberg Data Display
Former type Public limited company (Aksjeselskap)
Industry Consumer electronics, computer hardware
Fate Several splits, eventually dissolved
Founded 1933, 1979, 1991
Founder(s) Vebjørn Tandberg
Defunct 1996 (brand lives on)
Headquarters Oslo, Norway
Website http://www.tandberg-display.no/

Here we only consider the division of Tandberg that used to produce computer terminals, minicomputers, monitors, and keyboards.


As the original name Tandbergs Radiofabrikk suggests, the company founded by Vebjørn Tandberg began as a producer of radio receivers. By the late 1960s, though, the focus had shifted towards reel-to-reel tape recorders and after the successfull introduction of the TR 100 series of instrumentation recorders, it was decided to create a dedicated data division in 1970. Besides their data recording products, for which Tandberg remains well-known till these days, this division also started the development of display technology. In 1974, their first video display terminal, TDV 2000, was presented -- the series number presumably chosen owing to the futuristic connotation it had at that time. It already sported a detached keyboard.

When in 1977 the succeeding TDV 2100 series of terminals and microcomputers was introduced, Siemens became interested and closed a 5-year OEM agreement with Tandberg in early 1978. Tandberg became the main computer monitor and terminal maker for the Siemens data products division. Nevertheless, they had to file bankruptcy in December 1978 after the death of company founder Vebjørn Tandberg. Under the guidance of Siemens, who did not want to loose their supply, the former data division emerged from the ashes as Tandberg Data in 1979, with Siemens holding 51% of the shares, the rest was owned by the state of Norway. The remainder became just Tandberg, which eventually ended up as a maker of telepresence devices and was absorbed by Cisco in 2009, who still own the plain Tandberg brand.

In the late 1970s ergonomics started to become relevant and in this respect Scandinavia was about 5 years ahead of the rest of the world: Norwegian legislation already imposed corresponding requirements as early as 1980. The terminal line TDV 2200 introduced in 1980 was constructed to surpass these and won Tandberg several design awards as well as lasting fame for ergonomics and build quality.

In the course of the merger of its data products division with Nixdorf in 1990, Siemens sold almost all of its Tandberg Data shares. In the following year, Tandberg Data spun off its terminal business into Tandberg Data Display, creating the Tandberg Display brand. The brand survived when Tandberg Data Display eventually was reduced to sales and marketing in 1996, sold to new Swedish owners, and renamed to Ergonomic Office Systems. In 2000 they became part of MultiQ. The storage division of Tandberg Data had a different fate and survived, merged with Overland Storage, as a daughter of Sphere 3D Corp.

Among keyboard enhusiasts of today, the Tandberg brand name is mostly associated with the batches of TDV 5010 keyboards that appeared at eBay around 2010. These were built in 1998 by Cherry for the owners of the brand, perfectly copying the design and build quality of the Tandberg original and its Siemens keycaps of the 1980s – at a time when the Tandberg Data Display company already was history.


TDV series codes
TDV 1200  14" monochrome terminals late 1980s
TDV 1400 14" colour terminals late 1980s
TDV 2000 1st generation of terminals mid 1970s
TDV 2100 2nd generation of terminals, microcomputers late 1970s
TDV 2200 15" monochrome terminals 1980s
TDV 2300 "Video computer", Tandberg OS or CP/M early 1980s
TDV 2400 Intelligent terminals, "Topaz" microcomputers  late 1980s
TDV 2500 "Topaz" motorola microcomputers late 1980s
TDV 3100 IBM compatible mainframe terminals mid 1980s
TDV 3200 IBM compatible mainframe terminals mid 1980s
TDV 5000 PS/2 keyboards starting late 1980s 
TDV 5200 PC terminal conversion kits early 1990s
TDV 5300 PC monitors starting late 1980s
TDV 5700 Windows drivers early 1990s
TDV 6200 X grayscale terminals early 1990s
TDV 6300 X colour terminals early 1990s
TDV 6700 Unix drivers, X server early 1990s

Early terminals and minicomputers had foam-and-foil switches of unknown origin, whereas the OEM products for Siemens like the System 6.610 (TDV 2114) or the 3974 terminal received RAFI RS 76 M switches. From the introduction of the TDV 2200 series in 1980 on, all new products manufactured by Tandberg Data exclusively had Siemens STB switches in their keyboards. After own production was stopped and only the brand survived, keyboard production was commissioned to Cherry and changed to ML switches.


External links