Prototype Semi-automatic Telegraph Key

Description (Brief)
This prototype wireless telegraph key is from 1941. Until recently “wireless” meant radio and operators used keys to send radio messages via Morse code. The key is a semi-automatic device made by Lynn G. Heatherly. While working for the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad Company in Jacksonville, NC, Heatherly received US Patent #2,323,133 for this improved key. A semi-automatic key repeated the Morse code dots rapidly, much like holding down a key on a keyboard for repeated letters. The operator still keyed the dashes but could work much faster.
Currently not on view
Object Name
sending key
semi-automatic key
telegraph key
date made
Lynn G. Heatherly
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
chrome (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 2 7/8 in x 3 5/8 in x 8 in; 7.3025 cm x 9.2075 cm x 20.32 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Telegraph Keys
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Oliver Clyde Burnette in memory of Lynn G. and Lois C. Heatherly
Additional Media

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