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Information Age Gallery: Cable
The telegraph gave rise to the first global communication network, radically shrinking our world. Explore the objects on display in the Information Age Gallery and discover the ways cable still plays a vital role in an increasingly wireless world.
Builder's whole, rigged model, of SS 'Great Eastern', 1853-1857
Builder's whole, rigged model, scale 1:96, of SS 'Great Eastern' by John Scott Russell and Company, Millwall, London, England, 1853-1857
Machine used for covering wires with silk and cotton, 1837
Machine used for covering wires with silk and cotton for electrical purposes, made by W T Henley, Whitechapel, London, England, 1837
Thomson's Mirror Marine Galvanometer, 1858
Electricity and Magnetism
(Lord Kelvin) Thomson's marine mirror galvanometer, made by White & Barr, Glasgow, Scotland, 1858
Cut-away model of the T.S. 'Olympic', 1910-1937
Cut-away model, scale 1:144, of the triple-screw passenger liner, the T.S. 'Olympic' (1910), with painted panel showing the inner compartments with passengers, made by Bassett-Lowke Limited, Northampton, Northamptonshire, England, 1910-1937
Cooke and Wheatstone 5-needle telegraph, 1837
Large 5-needle Cooke and Wheatstone telegraph, designed by William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone, England, 1837
Knochenhauer spirals, 1963
Set of Knochenhauer spirals, replica of originals in Deutsches Museum, made by the Science Museum, South Kensington, London, England1963.
No. I.T. Morse tape printer, 1925
No. I.T. Morse tape printer, manufactured by Creed and Company Limited, Croydon, London, England, 1925
Silver thimble, used to pass a current through the 1866 Transatlantic cable, 1860-1866
Silver thimble, unknown maker, probably Ireland, 1860-1866. Originally owned by Miss Emily FitzGerald and by means of which an electric current was sent through the two Atlantic telegraph cables in 1866
Wheatstone's portable ABC telegraph, 1858
Wheatstone ABC telegraph set, made by the General Post Office, England, 1858
Receiver for Baudot Multiplex type-printing telegraph, 1911-1925
Receiver for Baudot Multiplex type-printing telegraph, made by the Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Company, Edge Hill, Liverpool, England, 1911-1925
'Italian Navy' detector, 1899-1901
Carbon-mercury-iron semiconductor diode detector, of the type invented by J C Bose in 1899, modified version, unknown maker, 1899-1901. Known as the ‘Italian Navy coherer’, used by G Marconi in Newfoundland to receive the first wireless communication across the Atlantic, December 1901.
Hughes' printing telegraph, 1860.
Hughes typewriting telegraph instrument, unknown maker, 1860. Invented about 1855 by David E Hughes (1829/31-1900), US patent numbers, 14,917, 1856; 22,531, 1859 and 22,770, 1859; British patent number 938, 1858.
Thomson's Mirror Galvanometer, 1858
(Lord Kelvin) Thomson's mirror galvanometer (land type) used at Valentia Island end of the original Atlantic cable, made by White and Barr, Glasgow, Scotland, 1858.
Trough battery, 1801-1838
Electricity and Magnetism
Original Cruickshank's galvanic "Trough" or battery, made by R & G Knight, London, England, 1801-1838
sample of the first transatlantic cable, 1857-1858
Sample of deep-sea portion of first transatlantic telegraph cable, manufactured by Glass, Elliot and Company, Greenwich, London, England, 1857-58. With outer wire armouring wound with a left-hand lay
Lord Kelvin's 'ironclad' marine galvanometer, 1865-1866
Electricity and Magnetism
(Lord Kelvin) Thomson's 'Ironclad' marine galvanometer, made by James White, Glasgow, Scotland, 1865-1866. Used on board the 'Great Eastern' in the Atlantic Cable expedition of 1866.
Clark's block signalling telegraph instrument, 1854
Signalling & Telecommunications
Clark's block signalling telegraph instrument, invented by Edwin Clark, probably made by W T Henley's Telegraph Works Company for the Electric Telegraph Company, London, England, 1854. This type of instrument was used of the London and North Western Railway Line between London and Rugby from 1855
Standard morse key, 1880-1950
Standard Morse key 1222, made for the General Post Office, unknown maker, British, 1880-1950
Type used for original morse telegraph, 1835
Type used for original morse telegraph, unknown maker, United States, 1835
Five-needle train signalling instrument used on the London and Blackwall Railway
Signalling & Telecommunications
5-needle train signalling instrument used on the London and Blackwall Railway, probably made by W T Henley's Telegraph Works Company for the Electric Telegraph Company, England, 1840. The London and Blackwall railway was the second permanent telegraph line to be constructed, along a 3 mile section of the track.
Bain's chemical telegraph, 1850.
Alexander Bain's chemical telegraph, unknown maker, England, 1850. Includes key not shown on photograph.
Whitehouse's induction coil, 1858
Induction coil, probably made by E W O Whitehouse, 1857. Previously believed to have been used for working the 1858 Atlantic cable. According to recent research by Allan Green (c. 2009), this coil is NOT one of the ones used by Whitehouse in working the Atlantic Cable of 1858 (see note)
Baudot five key keyboard, 1897-1926
Baudot five key keyboard (without message desk) with 'send' and 'receive' switch for simplex working, Post Office pattern, unknown maker, British, 1897-1926
Righi pattern oscillator, 1870-1923
Righi pattern oil-bath oscillator, made by John J Griffin & Sons Ltd, c. 1910
William Thomson's marine mirror galvanometer, 1850-1900
William Thomson's marine mirror galvanometer, made by Siemens and Halske, Berlin, Germany, 1850-1900.
Hand perforator and copy stand for Wheatstone automatic telegraph system, 1890-1910
Hand perforator and copy stand for Wheatstone automatic telegraph system, invented by Charles Wheatstone, unknown maker, probably British, 1890-1910. Wheatstone two unit stickpunch with paperslip dispenser.
replica of the first Morse telegraph, 1835
Replica of Morse's first model of telegraphy apparatus of 1835, possibly made by the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany, 1934
Experimental model of Marconi's magnetic detector, 1900-1910
Experimental model of Marconi's magnetic detector with moving magnet, unknown maker, England, 1900-1910
Thomson mirror speaking galvanometer, 1858
Thomson mirror speaking galvanometer, made by Elliott Brothers, Strand, London, England, 1858
Vertical galvanometer, 1830-1870
Vertical galvanometer, invented by Sir William Cooke, unknown maker, British, 1830-1870
Experimental transmitting ‘jigger’ used by the Marconi Company, 1899
Experimental transmitting ‘jigger’ or oscillation transformer used by the Marconi Company, probably made by Marconi's Wireless Telegraphy Company, Chelmsford, Essex, England, 1899
Magneto-electrometer, made by E. O. W. Whitehouse, England, 1857
Models of three wooden prisms used by Heinrich Hertz, 1949
Models (scale 1:4) of three wooden prisms used by Heinrich Hertz, made by the Science Museum Workshops, South Kensington, London, England, 1949
Telegraph sounder and sounder-screen, 1850-1950
Telegraph sounder and sounder-screen, unknown maker, 1850-1950. Telegraph sounder with large, dark brown wood screen.
Oersted Compass Needle, 1828
Ørsted's [Oersted] apparatus for showing the effect of an electric current on a magnetic needle, believed to have been supplied for £1-8-0 by Watkins and Hill, Charing Cross, Westminster, 1828.
Cooke and Wheatstone's four needle telegraph, 1838
Cooke and Wheatstone's four needle telegraph, unknown maker, England, 1838.
stock exchange automatic telegraph, 1872-1880
Stock exchange automatic telegraph, made by Thomas Edison, Menlo Park, New Jersey, United States, 1872-1880
Lucas grapnel, 1888-1960
Lucas grapnel, designed by F R Lucas and manufactured by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company Limited, British, 1888-1960
Portable double-needle telegraph and test set, 1850
Portable double-needle telegraph and test set, with removable wooden cover, unknown maker, possibly British, 1850
Steljes ABC type printing telegraph receiver
Steljes ABC type printing telegraph receiver No. 477, made by the Typewriting Telegraph Corporation Limited, London, England, 1895-1910
Daniell cell used by Edward Davy, 1836-1839
Daniell cell used and possibly made by Edward Davy, England, 1836-1839. Found in a field in Somerset by J J Fahie, an historian of the electric telegraph, in 1883.
Models of two parabolic zinc reflectors used by Heinrich Hertz, 1949
Model (scale 1:4) of two parabolic zinc reflectors used by Heinrich Hertz, one with oscillator and the other with resonator, made by the Science Museum Workshops, South Kensington, London, England, 1949
letter written by William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), 1858
Letter written by William Thomson (later Lord Kelvin) relating to the machinery for laying the Atlantic Telegraph Cable, Glasgow, Scotland, 2nd March 1858
Flag from Cable Ship 'Faraday' (sunk 1941), 1923-1941
Flag from CS 'Faraday' (sunk 1941), unknown maker, British, 1923-1941
Branly tripod coherer, 1900-1910
Branly tripod coherer, probably made by Edouard Branly, France, 1900-1910
Iron borings coherer (Branly type), 1894
Iron borings coherer (Branly type), probably made by Oliver Lodge, England, 1894. Mounted on wooden baseboard.
Moving magnet galvanometer with dial inscribed "Greenwich Mean Time", 1843-1897
Moving magnet galvanometer with dial inscribed "Greenwich Mean Time", made by Hunt and Roskell Limited, Clerkenwell, London, England, 1843-1897. The face of the instrument reads: 'This needle is deflected precisely at each hour, Hunt & Roskell Ltd, jewellers and watchmakers'
Single needle telegraph, 1846
Single needle telegraph, made by William Reid for the Electric Telegraph Company, London, England, 1846
Portrait bust of Lord Kelvin
Bronze bust of Lord Kelvin by A. McFarlane Shannan, Glasgow, Scotland, 1942-1945