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Telegraph Sounder

Telegraph Sounder

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph sounders convert electrical pulses into audible sounds and are used to receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. Short pulses make a dot, slightly longer pulses make a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. The pulses energize the sounder’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm. The arm makes a loud “click” when it strikes a crossbar and the operator translates the pattern of sounds into the original language. This sounder was reportedly used by Joseph Henry, first Secretary of the Smithsonian, in his experimental work. Henry made significant accomplishments in developing electromagnets that directly affected telegraph equipment design.
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph receiver
telegraph sounder
date made
ca 1860
user
Henry, Joseph
maker
Chester, Charles T.
Chester, J. N.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
steel (overall material)
copper (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
lead (overall material)
paper (overall material)
Measurements
overall: 4 in x 4 5/8 in x 8 1/2 in; 10.16 cm x 11.7475 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
EM.181450
catalog number
181450
accession number
2006.0177
Credit Line
from the Smithsonian Institution Collection of Apparatus, thru William C. Winlock
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Communications
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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Comments

This is called a "walking beam" type sounder. It is the earliest form of telegraph sounder. There were also relays constructed in this construction style as well. These are usually denoted by their additional brass binding post terminals and insulated sections (usually hard rubber, gutta percha, or ivory).

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