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Vintage Advertisement from Radio World Jan 6th 1934 for the Powertone Sending Key

This ad appeared in the Radio World Newspaper January 6th 1934.

It reads:

“Powertone Sending Key – The most practical gift to one who has just become interested in amateur radio. Widely used as a code practice key. Well balanced and fully adjustable. 75 cents”

What is a Sending Key?

A Sending key or Telegraph key is a general term for a switching device used primarily to send Morse code. Similar keys are used for all forms of manual telegraphy, such as in electrical telegraph and radio telegraphy. A straight key is the common telegraph key as seen in old movies. It is a simple bar with a knob on top and a contact underneath. When the bar is pressed against the spring tension, it forms a circuit and allows electricity to flow. Traditionally, American telegraph keys had flat topped knobs and narrow bars. British telegraph keys had ball shaped knobs and thick bars. Straight keys have been made in numerous variations for over 150 years worldwide. They are highly sought after by an avid community of key collectors.

President John F. Kennedy opening the Seattle World’s Fair with Telegraph Key

In the video above you can view JFK use a historic telegraph key. He opened the fair by telegraph key, using the same telegraph key that President Taft had used to open the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition in Seattle in 1909. The President officially opened the Fair on April 21st, 1962 and spoke by telephone from the Michael Paul residence in Palm Beach, Fla., where he and Mrs. Kennedy were spending the Easter holidays. His voice was heard by 12,000 people seated in the stadium on the fairgrounds in Seattle for the opening ceremonies.

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