Telegraph Key

Telegraph Key

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph keys are electrical on-off switches used to send messages in Morse code. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. The operator pushes the key’s lever down briefly to make a short signal, a dot, or holds the lever down for a moment to make a slightly longer signal, a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. This key was an early refinement on Alfred Vail's original lever key.
Object Name
telegraph key
date made
1845
maker
Vail, Alfred
Physical Description
brass (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
wood (overall material)
Measurements
on mount: 3 1/2 in x 4 1/2 in x 8 in; 8.89 cm x 11.43 cm x 20.32 cm
ID Number
EM.181412
catalog number
181412
accession number
31652
Credit Line
from Western Union Telegraph Co.
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Communications
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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