Telegraph Register

Telegraph Register

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Description (Brief)
This incomplete telegraph register is an early example and shows the large electromagnets typical of Morse units of the 1840s although it is missing much of the tape drive. This object came to the Smithsonian in 1897 from Western Union and we are uncertain if it is a demonstration or experimental piece. 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
Object Name
telegraph receiver
telegraph register
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
copper (overall material)
overall: 7 in x 6 in x 13 1/2 in; 17.78 cm x 15.24 cm x 34.29 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
from Western Union Telegraph Co.
Communication, telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Registers
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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