Hicks telegraph repeater patent model

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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 working model was submitted to the U.S. Patent Office by inventor George Hicks of Cleveland, Ohio, along with his application for a patent. In March 1862 he received patent #34574 for his "Improvement in Telegraphic Relays." This was not Hicks' first repeater but an improved version of one he had designed four years before that also modified a design patented by James Clark in 1860. This magnetic adjusting repeater used a circuit changer with permanently magnetized cores and armatures. Charles Davis and Frank Rae warned operators in 1877 to be certain they used "strong batteries" connected with the correct polarity. The repeater armature on this unit is stamped "E. M. Pierson."
Currently not on view
date made
Hicks, George B.
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
wood (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
copper (overall material)
steel (overall material)
overall: 4 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in x 16 in; 11.43 cm x 21.59 cm x 40.64 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Relays & Repeaters
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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