Bidding boxes were invented in 1962 in Sweden by Gösta Nordensonand first used at a World Bridge Championships game in Stockholm in 1970.
Eric Jannersten, a Swedish social bridge player and founder of the largest European bridge equipment manufacturer, Jannersten Förlag AB bought the patent in 1970 being attributed by some as the inventor.
They quickly became popular in Europe, and after some resistance were accepted in American bridge clubs. As of 2006, they are practically an indispensable part of the game, and even many rubber bridge players use them at home.
The next story seems from the era of the dinosaurs…but it is from just 39 years ago…
32nd European Bridge Championships 1975, Brighton
Bulletin Number 5
Notice to Players:
1. Bidding Boxes: The Chairman of the Tournament Committe wishes to point out that they are available on demand. There is an ample supply in both Playing Rooms, and boxes will immediately fixed to the labels whenever players ask for them.
2. Clarity of Bidding: As they are no scorers, the final contracts are not necessarily announced. It is therefore important that players announce their bids in a manner which will be clearly audible to the spectators at the table.
H. Franklin; Championships Manager
This was Terence Reese answer…in Bulletin Number 6:
In Friday’s Bulletin, there is a note in which the Chairman of the Tournament Committe :
a) Points out that bidding boxes are available on request.
b) Requests that players announce their bids in a manner which will be clear audible to spectators at the table.
Putting the two together, it is clear that the Chairman considers that the use of bidding boxes which bring colour and clarity to the proceedings should be universal. Suggest this to certain other officials and the answer is: «Well they are available but the players dont want them».
But that is not the only or even the important consideration. The players dont want to record their hands either, in the middle of the game, but it is done for the press, and is part of the show.
In the same way bidding boxes, which really are not trouble at all, and have many advantages for the players themselves, should be compulsory, in all public matches.
As things are, the players mutter inaudibly, no-one announces what the contract is or whether if it has been made, and spectators who pay entrance money are badly served.