Telegraph Register

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Description (Brief)
This telegraph register was designed for use in a municipal fire alarm system. When a person activated a call box to report a fire, this register would receive the signal and record which box had been activated. Patented in 1930 by Oswald G. Steinitz of Berkeley, CA (US Patent 1749927), this design reduced the number of batteries needed in the alarm system and thus saved money for the city.
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
date made
ca 1928
Steinitz, Oswald G.
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
brass (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
steel (overall material)
paper (overall material)
overall: 12 1/2 in x 5 3/4 in x 15 in; 31.75 cm x 14.605 cm x 38.1 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
from Richard Pitman
Communication, telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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