Telegraph Register

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Description (Brief)
This telegraph register, purportedly from Japan, came to the Smithsonian in 1911 from the U. S. Department of the Interior. While the electromagnets and tape reel appear conventional, there is no obvious tape drive mechanism so perhaps a separate weight or spring-mechanism was used. Telegraph registers are electrically-activated printers that receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The pulses energize the register’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm holding a pen or stylus. A clockwork mechanism pulls a strip of paper across the pen or stylus, recording the message. Short pulses draw or emboss a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers.
Currently not on view
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paper (overall material)
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 5 1/2 in x 4 1/8 in x 8 5/8 in; 13.97 cm x 10.4775 cm x 21.9075 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
fom Department of Interior, Bureau of Education
Communication, telegraph
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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