Queensland Telecommunications Museum
The Largest Collection of Telecommunication Memorabilia in Queensland.

Morse Code.

New Open Hours on Trial

We will be opening on

Saturdays starting from Saturday the 24th June.

9:30am till 2:30pm

Excluding weekends where major events are held
such as Voting Days, Sport Grand Final Days.

Queensland Telecommunications Museum
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The Electric Telegraph was invented by David Alter in 1836. This device was further developed and patented by Samuel Morse in 1837. Many inventors were actively developing various electro telegraph systems during this period See Wikipedia Page For More Information.. Samuel Morse's electrical telegraph system was capable of transmitting messages over wire. However it was Joseph Henry who invented powerful electro-magnets for use with Morse's system to enable transmissions to exceed a distance of 40 feet. Morse's device was first successfully tested on Jan 6th 1838. His first telegram using his device was sent by himself on May 24 1844. The message read 'What hath God wrought?'

The first telegraphs came in the form of optical telegraphs including the use of smoke signals and beacons which have existed since ancient times. A semaphore network invented by Claude Chappe operated in France from 1792-1846. The last (Swedish) commercial semaphore link ceased operation in 1880.

Semaphores were able to convey information more precisely than smoke signals and beacons and consumed no fuel. Messages could be sent at much greater speed than horse riders. However, like beacons and smoke signals, they were dependent on good weather to work. They required operators and towers every 30 km (20 mi), and could only accommodate about two words per minute. This was useful to governments, but too expensive for most commercial uses other than commodity price information. Electric Telegraphs were to reduce the cost of sending a message thirty fold as compared to semaphore.


Messages handled 1,189,355
Revenue £93,222
Electric Telegraph Offices 352
Miles of Telegraph Lines 9,973
Miles of Wire 17,622


Brisbane to Sydney 6/- (60c) for 1st 10 words + 4d (3c) per extra word
Brisbane to Melbourne 9/- (90c) for 1st 10 words + 6d (5c) per extra word
Brisbane to Sth Australia 12/- ($1:20) for 1st ten words + 8d (7c) per extra word.

Morse Tape Transmitter

Morse Tape Printer

Printed the message in dots and dashes on an adhesive tape

Morse Key

A typical telegraph morse key circa 1940 used extensively in telegraph office throught Australia. Amateur radio operators still use these keys today.
Made in England

Miniature Portable Key

This miniature portable key was easily carried in a pocket. used by telegraph linesmen to test lines back to their depot. Circa 1850.

Miniature Portable Key

A linesmans miniature key transmitter and receiver, carried in this leather case on the belt and could be operated without removing the set from the pouch.

Morse Bug Key

A well preserved specimen of the wide range of semi automatic and automatic morse bug keys. This key uses a horizontal action which helped prevent 'RSI' and was considerably faster then the convential hand key.

From this action was developed the modern lambic key which is extensively used by amateur radio users.

This Page last updated on 20th of May 2024

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