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Morse-Vail Telegraph Key

Demonstrator:
Morse, Samuel Finley Breese
Vail, Alfred
Maker:
Vail, Alfred
Morse, Samuel Finley Breese
Physical Description:
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
Measurements:
overall: 3 in x 2 in x 6 3/4 in; 7.62 cm x 5.08 cm x 17.145 cm
Object Name:
telegraph transmitter
telegraph key
Place Made:
United States: New Jersey, Morristown
Used:
United States: Maryland, Baltimore
United States: District of Columbia, Washington
Date made:
1844
Used date:
1844
Subject:
Computers & Business Machines
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Government, Politics, and Reform
Industry & Manufacturing
Work
National Treasures exhibit
Artifact Walls exhibit
Related Publication:
Kendrick, Kathleen M. and Peter C. Liebhold. Smithsonian Treasures of American History
Publication title:
Treasures of American History online exhibition
Publication author:
National Museum of American History
Publication URL:
http://americanhistory.si.edu/treasures
Credit Line:
from Western Union Telegraph Co.
ID Number:
EM*181411
Catalog number:
181411
Accession number:
31652
Description:
Alfred Vail made this key, believed to be from the first Baltimore-Washington telegraph line, as an improvement on Samuel Morse's original transmitter. Vail helped Morse develop a practical system for sending and receiving coded electrical signals over a wire, which was successfully demonstrated in 1844.
Morse's telegraph marked the arrival of instant long-distance communication in America. The revolutionary technology excited the public imagination, inspiring predictions that the telegraph would bring about economic prosperity, national unity, and even world peace.
Location:
Currently not on view
See more items in:
Work and Industry: Electricity
National Treasures exhibit
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source:
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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