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Telegraph Key - late 19th Century Object Reg. No: ST 007112

"Camelback" telegraph key, so-called because of its distinctive curved shape. The key was used for the transmission of signals in the Morse electric telegraph system.

To transmit signals the operator depressed a pivoted metal lever (the key) to complete an electric circuit and transmit current along the telegraph line. Releasing the key broke the circuit and cut off the current. Letters and numbers were represented by a sequence of short and long current pulses, transmitted according to a defined code. The most widely used code was generally known as "Morse code".

At the receiving end the sequence of current pulses could be displayed as long and short marks on a paper tape, or could be interpreted by an operator listening to the sounds made by the receiving instrument.
Brass base. Curved brass pivoted key, fitted with ebonite knob. Pivoted circuit closing lever with ebonite knob attached to base.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr John Thompson, 1915
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 38 mm (Height), 104 mm (Width), 140 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: morse keys, telegraph equipment, telegraphy
Themes this item is part of: Australia and the global telegraph network 1854-1902, The Australian telegraph network 1854-1877, J.J. Thompson - donor of telegraph objects to the Museum, Telegraphy Collection, Information & Communication Collection
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Telegraphy
Tertiary Classification: input
Inscriptions: Base engraved below key pivot:
Collector: Mr John Thompson, Armadale, Victoria, Australia, 27 Apr 1915

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