Cracking the (Morse) Code

Morse writing apparatus c1877. Signed: Yeates & Son Dublin
Morse writing apparatus c1877.

The Morse Code system was invented in the 1830s by American artist Samuel Morse. This system of electrical telegraphy utilised a series of dots and dashes to represent letters of the alphabet and numerical values.  The College Museum houses an interesting collection of morse signalling keys, receivers and other objects associated with telegraphy.

This particular piece (see image) is an electro-magnetic relay system, consisting of two coils wound on wooden bobbins, which attracts an armature of soft iron fixed at the end of a lever which pivots about an axle. At the other end of the lever is a spike which marks a paper tape when a signal is received. The tape is fed from a brass reel, passes between two brass rollers, and winds onto a second reel which is turned by clockwork.

The object was issued around the year 1877 by Yeates & Son, Dublin.

Text from The Scientific Apparatus of Nicholas Callan and Other Historical Instruments by Charles Mollan and John Upton (1994)

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