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Telegraph Key & Relay - Victorian Telegraph Service, 1860s Object Reg. No: ST 022103

Telegraph key and relay. The key was used for the transmission of signals in the Morse electric telegraph system. The relay was part of part of the circuit involved in receiving signals coming in from the telegraph line.

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".

When receiving signals, the current pulses coming in from the telegraph line activated the relay. From the relay, the signals could pass to a register and 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.

With marks of the Victorian Telegraph Service, which operated the telegraph system in Victoria from 1854 to 1869. Used at Melbourne Observatory.
Acquisition Information:
Transfer from Melbourne Observatory, 1945
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 120 mm (Height), 410 mm (Width), 275 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: electrical relays, morse keys, telegraph equipment, telegraphy, morse relay
Themes this item is part of: Australia and the global telegraph network 1854-1902, The Australian telegraph network 1854-1877, Telegraphy Collection, Melbourne Observatory Collection, Information & Communication Collection, Positional Astronomy at Melbourne Observatory, Weights & Measures at Melbourne Observatory, Melbourne Observatory & Standard Time in Victoria, Astrographic Catalogue, Transits of Venus, 1874 & 1882, Buildings at Melbourne Observatory, Star Observations & Personal Equation, Meteorology at Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1908, Melbourne Observatory, 1863-1944, Geodetic Survey of Victoria, 1858-1872
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Telegraphy
Tertiary Classification: input/output
Inscriptions: The base of the unit is marked with the resitance (213 ohms) and with a crown over the letters V. T. S. The key is stamped similarly with the number 1078.
User: Victorian Telegraph Service, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1860s
User: Melbourne Observatory, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia, 1860s

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