EARLY BEGINNINGS: History of communication over distances greater than human voice: Hand signals, fire beacons, flags, mechanical semaphores, telegraph Derivation of the word Telegraph: Tele=Far; Graph=Graphien=To Write 1830s Needle Galvanometers were in use in England to indicate railroad track conditions & control trains. Later used to receive letters. 1833 Samuel Morse demonstrated first device to send signals over wires. Close switch on 1 end of wire, mark paper tape on other end. Device used to mark signals is called a REGISTER. Not until 1849 did people think of receiving code by ear. Designed a SOUNDER - mounted in a wooden box (a resonator) to mechanically amplify sound. 1844 First true key. Vail's "Correspondent" Straight lever. Lasted 4 yrs. 1848 Thomas Hall-Boston. Add weight to rear & curve down Hinde & Williams-Boston. Heavier lever & coil spring Charles Chubbuck-NY. Leaf spring to center of key Led to development of "CAMELBACK" or "humpback" curved lever key. Lasted 12 yrs because steel pivot pin worked loose in brass lever. 1849 Need for portable set led to Key & Sounder on same Base (KOB) set. 1857 Portable pocket KOB set called "Lineman's Test Set" 1860 Phelps (Western Union chief engineer) invented adjusting screw for spring tension. (A major improvement) 1865 End of camelbacks. Lever brass wore out against steel trunnion. 1869 Camelback curve removed and lever smoothed to Bradley style of today. 1875 Western Electric introduced "Lewis" key of Nickel on ornate base. 1879 Walter Phillips abbreviated most words. Cut transmitting time by 1/3. 1881 Jesse H. Bunnell first steel lever key - the "Triumph" key. within 1 year accepted by all companies and all railroads. Big business with fierce competition. (Hamilton patent of 1883). 1883 L.G.Tillotson "Victor Key" knife edge bearing mfg by Bunnell to 1920. 1886 "Steiner Key" (Western Electric) No pivot. Hard to adjust. Western Electric "Pole Changer key" for complex land lines. A. J. Maloney & A. G. Johnson - "Convertible key" could be turned on its side to allow horizontal operaton. 1888 High volume of traffic led to "Telegrapher's paralysis" Now called "Carpal Tunnel Syndrome". Bunnell's horizontal action"Sideswiper" also called the "double-speed key" helped reduce the pain. 1900 Foote Pierson Co. mfg. Skirrow & Shirley's "20th Century Key" Nicknamed "Pump Handle Key" Popular with Railroad operators. 1902 Charles Yetman - Typewriter morse code sender-hard to send steadily. 1900s Signal Electric Company - mfg. large line of telegraph apparatus Manhattan Electric Supply Co. (MESCO). " " " " " " ". Sears & Montgomery Ward and others sold above keys with no mfg names. RCA Institutes trained large numbers of telegraphers on KOB sets. THE DEVELOPMENT OF "RADIO KEYS" AND "BUGS" "RADIO KEYS": - Spark transmitters needed keys with HUGE contacts. 1896 Marconi-Grasshopper spark key cut out receiver when transmitting. 1904 Oil keys with immersed contacts to reduce sparking. American deForest key with 1 inch silver contacts for 10KW xmttr. United Wireless Instrument key-marble base, skirted knob. 1905 Slaby-Arco "Door knob" key used with high power spark transmitters. 1910 Radio Amateurs made many "Dime Keys" by soldering dimes to contacts. 1911 Marconi Co. Open circuit key with closing switch & Heavy contacts. 1915 Clapp-Eastham "Boston Key" - marble base & German silver contacts. US Navy key with 1/2 inch silver contacts & brass cooling fin. Bunnell began making keys with replacable contacts copied by Signal Electric Co. eventually led to the Johnson Hand key of 1930s. 1916 Signal Electric Key with 1/4, 3/8, or 1/2 inch contacts. 1920 Sideswipers by "Cootie", Bunnell, RECO, Montgomery Ward, and Sears. 1940s Many specialized keys made for WWII. Many J-series keys. BUGS: - developed from the need to send faster code. 1902 Horace G. Martin - AUTOPLEX - used batteries to hold pendulum for dashes & release it for dots. Cleverly wrote patent to cover virtually all automatic dot keys. 1904 Martin introduced his "VIBROPLEX" Original. Lasted 90 years. 1906 William Caffe "MECOGRAPH" right-angled key works on release of spring tension thereby bypassing Martin's patent. 1907 Modified by Benjamin Bellows & Ambrose Behner. 1909 Modified for easier adjustment of dots by Bellows. Hulit Co.-Topeka KS Full automatic, key wound Key" Lasted 3 years. 1909 Thomas Dunn-Convertible Sideswiper and semiautomatic bug. Vail-O-Graph, MacDonald double lever key Max Levy - A-to-Z Novelty Co. "Improved Vibroplex." MARTIN SUED ALL IMITATORS, WON, And then LICENSED all bugs that passed his test. J.E. Albright license tag attached to bootleg bugs which were then called "Albright bugs" or "Legal bugs". 1911 Martin used Hulit's 2 levers for his double lever Vibroplex. 1912 "X" model Vibroplex. 1 Contact for both dots & dashes.Lasted 13 yrs. 1914 Vibroplex #4 (smaller/portable) which later became the "BLUE RACER". Martin bought Mecograph patents.-> Martin Vibroplex & Mecograph Co. 1917 Vertical Vibroplex "Wire Chief's Key" less space - Lasted 8 years. 1920s CW REPLACED SPARK. Smaller contacts. Bugs could now be used. 1922 Walter Lytle-Philadelphia-TRIPLEX-3way-straight,sideswipe,bug. J.H. Bunnell's "Gold Bug". Pretty key with terrible "feel". 1923 Martin Number 6 - called the "VIBROPLEX LIGHTNING" in the 1930s. 1925 The "Ultimate" (A miniature key). SEMANTIC-Sideswiper/semi auto. KEEN KODE KEY-keyboard dots & lever dashes. COLORED base Vibroplexes. Martin Jr. (Larger contacts.) 1929 RADIO SPEED BUG - The only kit bug ever made. Sold for less than $5. 1930s Martin left Vibroplex. Formed Martin Research Co. Martin FLASH KEY. Les Logan Co-> SPEED-X keys often misnamed Logan Bugs-Later Johnson. GO-Devil semi-auto/sideswiper. SPEED BUG-Bklyn Metal Stamping Co. SPEED KING-T.R. McElroy who demonstrated cw copy at 75WPM!! Mfg his MAC-KEY. Then his deluxe SUPER SPEED STREAM key. McElroy also involved in mfg Telegraph Apparatus Co.(TAC) bugs. ELECTRO BUG:Switch in base adjusts electrically operated dot relay. 1940s MELEHAN VALIANT-fully automatic- designed by Melvin E. Hansen. Lytle Triplex - Later called the DOW key. 1994 Vibroplex new owner: S. Felton Mitchell, Jr. WA4OSR Address: 11 Midtown Park Ease. Mobile, AL 36606-414 --->> ADDITIONS, CORRECTIONS, and COMMENTS ARE WELCOME !!!!!!
Professor Tom Perera
Montclair State University