Steiner telegraph transmitter

Telegraph relays 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, to the point where the incoming signal was too weak to directly operate a receiving sounder or register. A relay detected a weak signal and used a battery to strengthen the signal so that the receiver would operate.
This telegraph relay was intended for use on duplex telegraph circuits that allowed two messages to travel simultaneously on the same wire. A note found with the unit refers to this as a "Steiner" telegraph transmitter. Josef Steiner's patents were typically assigned to Western Union so this object likely reflects one of his improvements.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Steiner relay
telegraph relay
Western Electric
Steiner, Josef
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 4 3/4 in x 8 3/4 in x 4 7/8 in; 12.065 cm x 22.225 cm x 12.3825 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog 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 Western Union Corporation
Additional Media

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