Telegraph Register

Description (Brief)
This Western Electric register is one of the few for which we also have the weight, used to power the tape drive mechanism. The string holding the weight passed through the hole in the unit’s base and wrapped around the brass drum. Like a mechanical clock, the operator would rewind the unit when the weight reached the floor.
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 1885
Western Electric
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
lead (overall material)
copper (overall material)
brass (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 6 1/2 in x 5 3/4 in x 13 in; 16.51 cm x 14.605 cm x 33.02 cm
weight: 4 in x 3 1/2 in; 10.16 cm x 8.89 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from C. H. McDonald, through T. Boyle
Communication, telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History