Morse-Vail Telegraph Key

Description:

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: http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures

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

Guid: http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746a9-46b1-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa

Record Id: nmah_1096762

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.