3 Wegematic 1000

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3.1 The Donator, Axel Leonard Wenner-Gren

(Source: R. Boman, I. Dahlberg: Dansen kring guldkalven, Askild & Kärnekull, 1975, see also [Unger 1962].)

Axel Leonard Wenner-Gren was born in 1881 in Uddevalla, Sweden. He was engaged in a large number of diverse projects like the production of vacuum cleaners and refrigrators (Electrolux), monorail transportation, air cushion transportation, real estate business on Bahamas, exploitation of natural resources in British Columbia, dry milk production, integration of the telephone nets in Mexico, and production of computers, just to mention some. His complicated financial empire consisted of some one hundred companies making it possible to largely avoid paying taxes. He was pompous with big self-esteem and liked to have contacts with the most influential people of his time like President Roosewelt, Mussolini, Konrad Adenauer, Hermann Göring, Neville Chamberlain and Alfried Krupp. Wenner-Gren explained his engagement in businesses as means to realize his burning interest in science, research and humanitarian purposes in general.

In 1939 Wenner-Gren left Sweden on his ship Southern Cross and returned to Sweden in 1946. During the war he spent most of his time in Bahamas and Mexico. He was during most of this time black listed by USA and UK for alleged accusations on improper contacts with Germany. However, no material supporting the accusations was ever presented and in a book by Leif Leifland: "Svartlistningen av Axel Wenner-Gren, En bok om justitiemord", Askelin & Hägglund, Stockholm, 1989 the black listing is argued to be a miscarriage of justice.

In 1952 he bought the company Research Logistics, Inc. in California. In 1954 the computer Alwac III, a small well working computer was produced. The first copy was donated to the US Air Force. He was recommended to sell the company to IBM as long as its technical edge lasted because it was estimated that Wenner-Gren would not be able to compete in this area with giants like IBM. He chose to continue with Alwac 800. As in many other Wenner-Gren projects the local leaders were not loyal and the control was almost nonexistent leading to loses in the order of 10 million dollars and closure of the company in 1958 (not bankrupt to not risk the possibility to obtain much needed loans for other projects).

The next chapter in this story is written in 1957 when Wenner-Gren's trusted Birger Strid, through Wenner-Gren's holding company Fulcrum, let the "inventor" Bo Nyman take hold of the two Wenner-Gren companies Svenska Reläfabriken and Eksjöverken, forming the ABN companies. Bo Nyman had met with the aging Wenner-Gren who liked him very much and put the trust in him to fulfill his remaining expectations. The rights of the closed California company was bought for ABN by Fulcrum, who also had signed the hiring contracts of the personnel of ABN. In 1958 the building of the ABN factory was started in Bollmora in Tyresö the home municipality of Nyman. It seems that ABN was created more for obtaining additional loans than a serious effort to start something profiting.

The computer Alwac III-E, renamed Wegematic 1000 was manufactured with start in 1960. The first of 12 computers was, as written in a letter from Strid to Wenner-Gren on January 1960, delivered to Belgium (Gevaert) and the rest were within 4 months to be delivered to: Israel 1 computer, Finland 2, Sweden 6, Germany 2. They were in June to be followed by the batch: Germany 3, Hungary 2, Norway 1, Sweden 9, out of which 3 to the national registration authority. It was stated the there were fixed orders on 50 machines. It has not been possible to find out the truth of this information and who paid for these machines, possibly Wenner-Gren through Fulcrum. This would be in line with Wenner-Grens intentions. The two to Finland were donated. A lot more is told in the letter, some of which seems totally unrealistic leading to an estimate of the profit 57 million Skr in 1961, of which half were to go to Fulcrum.

Strid was "after hard negotiations" able to buy the ABN from Nyman for Fulcrum in 1961 for 8 million Skr, a financially totally unintelligible transaction. In November 1961 Wenner-Gren died and soon after ABN went bankrupt, with losses amounting to 10 million Skr.

The "concern executive" Strid continued in Fulcrum until it went bankrupt in 1973, when the estate's estimated assets of originally 57 million Skr had disappeared and the whole Wenner-Gren empire was shown to be an empty shell.