Telegraph Sounder

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph sounders convert electrical pulses into audible sounds and are used to receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. Short pulses make a dot, slightly longer pulses make a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. The pulses energize the sounder’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm. The arm makes a loud “click” when it strikes a crossbar and the operator translates the pattern of sounds into the original language. According to Western Union this “crude” sounder was not only a practical instrument but saw actual service. “It was improvised by an operator who had at hand no other means of providing himself with desired apparatus to complete his office equipment.”
Currently not on view
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
iron (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 4 3/4 in x 5 1/4 in x 4 1/2 in; 12.065 cm x 13.335 cm x 11.43 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Western Union Telegraph Company
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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