Friday, 30 April 2010

An Alternative History of Finland: Act Three

The third act of my Alternative History is thankfully on a far more light-hearted note than the grim tragedy of Act Two. It is set in 1876 at the headquarters of a paper manufacturer in South Western Finland. The works are sited on the banks of the river Nokianvirta. The nearest town is called Nokia. Fredrik Idestam, the founder and chairman, decided to name his company Nokia, after its location.

One day a keen young clerk, who coincidentally shares the same surname as the writer of these alternative histories, rushes into the chairman’s office to tell him of an exciting new invention he had just read about in the scientific journals. It seems a certain Alexander Graham Bell has invented what he calls a telephone. Young Karl suggests that the company diversifies from their current line of paper products into manufacturing telephones, which he believes will make the company’s fortune and name.

The chairman of Nokia wants to know more about this revolutionary product. Apparently the telephone would allow Mr Idestam to speak to the office from within the comfort of his own home. Mt Idestam is not impressed. Pen and paper are more than sufficient for that he concludes. In his considered opinion the telephone is just a passing fad. He confidently predicts that in the 21st century people will have long forgotten all about telephones. However the whole globe will know of Nokia and still be using its products because people will always have a need for toilet paper!

This story was inspired by my first ever visit to the motherland where I came across a reconstruction of an early 20th century small grocery store. To my amusement, one of the products on prominent display was a toilet roll proudly displaying the Nokia brand name; which only goes to prove that even the biggest global brands have to start at the bottom.

Nokiassa vuonna 1876

Fredrik Idestam on Nokian toimitusjohtaja. Karl Riikonen on vain toimihenkilö mutta hän on kaukokatseinen. Karl juoksee huoneeseen. Hän on kovin jännittynyt.

Karl: Herra Idestam. Olin kirjastossa lukemassa aikakausjulkaisua. Alexander Graham Bell keksi puhelimen. Hän patentoi ensimmäisen käytännössä toimivan puhelimen.

Fredrik: Mikä on puhelin?

Karl: Me kommunikoimme puhelime vaikka sinä olet kotona ja minä olen toimistossa. Firmalla on tilaisuus. Se voi tuottaa puhelimet.

Fredrik: Ei koskaan! Nokia tuottaa puuvanuketta. 2000-luvulla me kommunikoimme kynällä. Emme kommunikoi puhelimalla. Miten tahansa, 2000-luvulla, he edelleen jatkavat ostavat Nokian tuotteita. Miksi? Ihmiset tarvitsevat aina toilettipaperia. Mene pois Karl! Nyt!

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