Williams telegraph repeater

Description (Brief)
Telegraph repeaters amplified electrical signals in a telegraph line. Telegraph messages traveled as a series of electrical pulses through a wire from a transmitter to a receiver. Short pulses made a dot, slightly longer pulses a dash. The pulses faded in strength as they traveled through the wire, limiting the distance a message could travel. Repeaters remedied that problem by detecting a weak signal and using a local power source to re-energize and re-transmit the signal down the line.
This repeater was made by Charles Williams, Jr. of Boston and used in experiments by Moses Farmer. Williams was a well known instrument maker who also made early telephone devices for Alexander Graham Bell. Someone, Farmer himself perhaps, removed the electromagnet coils from this repeater prior to the donation of the relay by his daughter in 1899.
Currently not on view
Object Name
expreimental repeater
telegraph repeater
telegraph relay
date made
ca 1878
Charles Williams, Jr.
Farmer, Moses G.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 4 3/4 in x 10 1/4 in x 7 in; 12.065 cm x 26.035 cm x 17.78 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Sarah J. Farmer
Additional Media

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