Dating a vibroplex
The design evolved somewhat until the modern design was invented and patented by Jesse Bunnell in 1881. Martin, a New York inventor, patented the first semi-automatic telegraph key, which he began to manufacture as the “Autoplex.” Using a battery and coil like those in an electric bell, the Autoplex made endless strings of dots when the operator pushed a lever in one direction.
He called his key the “Triumph Key.” However, many telegraph operators who used a key for long periods of time developed a debilitating problem, which they called “glass arm.” Today the same type of problem has a kinder name — “Repetitive Motion Disorder,” or RMD. Dashes were made manually by pushing the lever the other way.
A revolution in communcation occurred with the development of the telegraph. Today, as in all of its proud history, the heritage of Vibroplex symbolizes the interest, camaraderie, and esprit de corps of the worldwide ham radio community. Original is designed for code speeds ranging from approximately 20 wpm to 50 wpm. A left-handed version is available by special order. The base is USA-forged cold rolled steel, upper components are zinc, steel and brass. Instead of magnetic tensioning, we use the tried and true spring loaded method which provides a greater range of possible tension settings than magnets allow. All working parts except the finger pieces are metal.
However, the early telegraph keys used to send messages caused severe strain on the telegrapher's wrist - a condition now known as carpal tunnel syndrome. Martin patented the first in a line of devices which solved the problem: the Martin Autoplex, an electro-mechanical sending device which required batteries. Owning this beautifully crafted instrument will link you to a great tradition. The base, frame, and levers are electrostatic powdercoated in a wrinkle black finish. Adjustment components are chromed brass; the contact points are coin-grade silver. A heavy solid steel base anchors the straight key to the operating position.
Beginning in the Twenties, commercial, military and amateur wireless operators began using Vibroplexes.
Production peaked in the Fourties and Fifties along with the popularity of ham radio, but the Vibroplex Company is still making them — be sure to visit the Vibroplex Co.
Simple to operate and virtually incapable of making errors, the Hand Key is the basic tool for the telegrapher.
The J-6 was used by the Signal Corps for the small airborne spark transmitters that were in use at the end of WWI up into the early 1920s.
Used by professionals and amateurs alike, these types of telegraph keys date from the nineteenth-century up to the present time.With the logo plate attached, the new Straight Key is destined to become the latest Vibroplex Collectible. The Straight Key has a unique mechanical action, unlike any straight key that has ever been manufactured! Two years later, Martin went into business with a group of entrepreneurs, forming the United Electrical Manufacturing Company. Four non-skid rubber feet are affixed to the bottom for extra non-movement stability. The code speed with the Iambic depends on the particular electronic keyer with which it is operated. The lever arm pivots in the famous chromed mainframe.It was also in 1904 that Martin filed his second patent for a new sending device which used a weighted, vibrating arm and did not require the use of a magnetic coil or batteries. And, you get the same crisp operation at 5 words per minute as you do at 50 wpm. A stainless steel spring allows complete control of the tension.