Morse-Vail Telegraph Key


Alfred Vail made this key, believed to be from the first Baltimore-Washington telegraph line, as an improvement on Samuel Morse's original transmitter. Vail helped Morse develop a practical system for sending and receiving coded electrical signals over a wire, which was successfully demonstrated in 1844.

Morse's telegraph marked the arrival of instant long-distance communication in America. The revolutionary technology excited the public imagination, inspiring predictions that the telegraph would bring about economic prosperity, national unity, and even world peace.

Date Made: 1844Used Date: 1844

Demonstrator: Morse, Samuel Finley BreeseVail, AlfredMaker: Vail, AlfredMorse, Samuel Finley Breese

Place Made: United States: New Jersey, MorristownUsed: United States: Maryland, BaltimoreUnited States: District of Columbia, Washington

See more items in: Work and Industry: Electricity, Government, Politics, and Reform, Engineering, Building, and Architecture, Work, Communications, Computers & Business Machines, Industry & Manufacturing, American Enterprise, National Treasures exhibit, Artifact Walls exhibit

Exhibition: American Enterprise

Exhibition Location: National Museum of American History

Related Web Publication:

Related Publication: Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History, National Museum of American History. Treasures of American History online exhibition

Credit Line: from Western Union Telegraph Co.

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: EM.181411Catalog Number: 181411Accession Number: 31652

Object Name: telegraph transmittertelegraph key

Physical Description: wood (overall material)brass (overall material)Measurements: overall: 3 in x 2 in x 6 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm x 17.145 cm


Record Id: nmah_1096762

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