by Neal McEwen, K5RW
List last updated 26 November 2000
To Telegraph Office Main Page
I first started this list in the early 1980s and it has sort of evolved.
In some cases the dates are based on verifiable evidence and in some cases
the dates are a best guess. This list will continue to evolve and
your input is welcome. I will add a references column at a later
date. See credits and bibliography below.
|Manufacturer||Location||Dates||Models and Notes||Photos||Notes|
|A-to-Z Electric Novelty Co.||Chicago, Ill.||?-1914-?||Illegal copy of Martin Vibroplex. "The Improved Vibroplex." Original, Dual Lever, and X-model clones. Also the "Oscilloplex," which might have been a legal bug.||.||JOT|
|A.E.Co.||Chicago, Ill.||pre-WWI||Also labeled "Improved Vibroplex." All A.E.Co. bugs have a steel frame; some have a steel damper and weights. The maker of A.E.Co. bugs seems to be the same as A-to-Z bugs.||.||Evans|
|Abernethy||Hampton, Va||1916||Slipped through Martin patents with patent 1,168,696. Small bug at 4" x 2".||.||.|
|Air Hawk||?||?||Has damper like Vibroplex "Lightning Bug."||.||.|
|Bell Novelty Co.||Cedar Rapids, Iowa.||1949-1950s||Economical right-angle bug sold as learner's intrument.||.||.|
|Boulter, R.L.||Los Angeles, Cal||1913-1920||Boulter patent numbers appear on Vibroplex "Lightning Bug."||.||.|
|Breedlove||299 Marietta St. N. W. Atlanta 3, Ga.||1950-1951||"Codetrol" Right-angle bug. 200 or less made. Most sold in Europe.||.||.|
|Brooklyn Metal Stamping Co.||Brooklyn, N.Y.||1930-1942||Commercial and Signal Corps. J-36 models. Unusual design.||.||BMSCo.|
|Brown Bros.||5370 Southwest Ave. St. Louis, Mo. 63139||1964-1975||Bug and bug-paddle combination, model CSA.||.||Brown|
|Bunnell, J.H.||New York, N.Y.||1926-1927
Bunnell-Martin "Flash Keys," Bunnell "Flash Keys," plus the Signal Corps. J-36 and special Navy models amd Navy model clone for commercial service.
|Cardwell, A.D.||?||?||Dual Lever bug.||.||.|
|Clark, James||Louisville, Ky||1942-1945||"Rotoplex" for the U.S. Army Airways Communications Service, AACS. Also commercial models. Pendulum pivots on ball bearings.||.||.|
|Conkling, D.C.||Pittsfield, Mass||?-1912-?||Advertised in July, 1912 "Railroad Telegrapher."|
|Conkling, George W.||Tribune Building, New York||?-1908-?||Used line current to make dots like the Electro-Bug. Dual lever.||.||Conkling|
|Cote, O.E.||?||1930s?||Might be Canadian||.||.|
|D&K Mfg.||1555 Columbus Road, Cleveland, Ohio||1909-1920||The "Dinger" was a right-angle design similar to but different than the right-angle Mecograph bugs.||.||Dinger|
|Delany Telegraphic Transmitter Co.||20 Broad St. New York, N.Y.||?-1906-1908-?||"Auto-Dot." Most Delany bugs have a wooden top base on iron sub-base with a cloverleaf stamp with "DTTC" on it. At least two variations of design.||.||Delaney|
|Dow-Key||Warren, Minnesota||1945-1950s||The "Universal" rotary model the most common. Also made in Winnipeg, Canada||.||Regis|
|Dunn, Thomas J.||No. 1 Broadway, New York, N.Y.||1909-1915||"Dunduplex" Makes code with paddles or two finger buttons on top. Earliest model advertised as "The Peerless Key" with all moving parts encased in a 4" x 2" casedwith three buttons on top for dash, dot and circuit switch..||.||Dunn
|Electric Specialty Co.||Cedar Rapids, Iowa||1939-1955||The only bug ever marketed in kit form. Amateur and professional models. Sold for $2.97 in 1939||.||.|
|Electro Mfg. Co.||443 Stevenson St. San Francisco and Fresno, California||1924-1934||"Electro Bug" Used line current to make the pendulum oscillate. Also "Electro Jr." and "Model 11" for radiotelegraphers. The Model 11 was available in black, red, blue, green and nickel.||.||Electro
|Emory, A.H.||263 Mill St. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.||1934-1950||"Go-Devil" Cast base with sloping sides.||.||.|
|General Metal Craft Co.||Brockton, Mass.||?||All sheet metal fabrication. For juvenile market.||.||French|
|Go-Devil Instrument Co.||624 Dutchess Turnpike, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.||?-1958-?||"Go-Devil" Model-U. Combination bug and sideswiper. Aluminum construction.||.||Go-Devil|
|Hulit Tranmitter Co.||529 Kansas Ave. Topeka, Ks||1909-1911||Dots made by windup clock motor. Very large, dual lever.||.||Hulit|
|Hunter||1906 W. Hanna Ave. Tampa 4, Fl||1935-1965||"Apex" bug. Early models made in British Honduras. Operation by Dwight Hunter. Advertised in QST.||.||Apex|
|Johnson, E.F.||Waseca, Minnesota||1947-1972||"SPEED-X" line of bugs acquired from Les Logan. Johson sold SPEED-X line to Wm. Nye who discontinued the SPEED-X bugs but made keys.||.||.|
|Kenco||Boston, Ma.||1934-1941||Made by Radio Shack of Boston. No relation to Sears and Roebuck. Strong resemblance to Emory "Go-Devil." Bakelite base with iron sub-base.||.||.|
|King & Co.||Cincinnati, Oh||pre-WWI||"Orig. Am. Vibroplex"||.||.|
|Leach Relay Co.||San Francisco, Cal.||1920-1930||"Speedoplex"||.||.|
|Liggett, Van D.||Tyler, Texas||?-1914||A re-lableled A-to-Z "Original" or "X-model"||.||.|
|Lionel||N.Y.||1942-1945||"J-36" made for the U.S. Army Signal Corps. A clone of the "Lightning Bug." Same Lionel as in toy trains.||.||.|
|Logan, Les||San Francisco, Cal.||1937-1947||Logan was the second owner of the SPEED-X line.||.||.|
|Mac Donald, Wm.||Chicago, Ill.||1912-1914||A dual lever design. Damper like Vibro "Lightning Bug." Insulated sub-base.||.||.|
|Martin, Horace G.||Brooklyn, N.Y.||1903-1914||Vibroplex||.||.|
|Martin Mfg.||Atlanta, Ga||1908-1910||Martin Vibroplex operation.||.||.|
|Martin Research & Mfg.||N.Y.||1938-1939||Manufactured clones of Vibroplex models.||.||.|
|Marvel||Chicago, Ill||?||"Marvel" Black lacquered base with 'tiger stripe' band in the center of the base. No adjustable weight; a clip changes the natural frequency of the pendulum, which is heavy on the end.||Photo1,
|McClintock, O.B.||Minneapolis, Minn.||1930-1931||"Keen Kode" A keyboard for dots, number "1" to "6" for the number of dots to send. Invented by W.D.Cooper. Later models had automatic dashes.||.||Keen|
|McElroy, T.R.||Boston, Mass.||1934-1942||"Mac-Key" and others.||.||.|
|Mecograph||74 Frankfort St. Cleveland, Ohio
321 Frankfort Ave. Cleveland, Ohio
|Two models of Right angle bugs made to get around the Martin patents. A third righ angle model works like a folded Vibroplex. Also an early vertical model, straight pendulum model ("Premier" model) and a combination bug and straight key in a box. Bought by Martin in 1913. Advertisement in May 1910 claims 10,000 Mecographs in use.||.||Meco
|Melehan||Anaheim, Cal.||1939-1947||"Valiant" A fully automatic bug. Has two pendulums, one for dots and one for dashes. Large bug with seventeen adjustments. About 400 made.||.||.|
|Mt. Auburn Specialty Co.||Cincinnati, Ohio||?-1914-?||"James M. Dickson" key.||.||JOT|
|National Transmitter Co.||Jersey City, N.J.||?-1920-1924-??||Small compact bug with vertical pendulum. Refers to Thomas J. Dunn patents.||.||.|
|Pat Products||Roseland, N.J.||?||Label on bug states:
Div. of K&McD. Inc.
Roseland, N.J. USA
|Peerless Mfg. Co.||Fordson, Mich.||?||Stamped steel base on cast iron sub-base. Some models had horseshoe magnet to keep the pendulum at rest. No Circuit closing lever. Early models had simulated wood grain top painted on the iron base. No connection to the "Peerless" bug of Thomas J. Dunn.||.||Peerless|
|Postal Telegraph||?||before 1943 merger with W.U.Tel.Co.||"Property of Postal Telegraph Cable Co. cast into the base. Serial numbers indicate about 150 made.||.||.|
|Precision Thermometer Instrument Co.||Philadelphia, Penn.||1924-1926||The "Triplex" could be used as a right hand, left hand bug or straight key.||.||.|
|Sany Metal Products Co. Inc.||Cleveland, OH||?||Resembles a Vibroplex "Lightning Bug"||.||Gran-
|Signal Electric||Minomineee, Michigan||1928-1934||"Sematic", a hybrid sideswiper and bug. Low profile parts on a cast base.||.||Sematic|
|Simplex Co.||Salt Lake City, Utah||1907-?||Advertised as "Leiser's Simplex Transmitter." Resembles Martin Autoplex.||.||Simplex|
|Specialty Shoe Machine Co.||St. Joseph, Mo||?-1916-?||"Shawplex" The dot post had a spring like the dot spring on the pendulum.||.|
|Speed-X Radio Manufacturing||30 Ninth St., San Francisco, Ca.||1933-1937||"SPEED-X" line. Some models had "SPEED-X" engraved in white letters on the fingerpiece.||.||Ranney
|Standard Radio||New York||early 1930s||Resembles a heavy duty "Original." "U" shaped damper with wheel. Made in several colors. Black japanned, emerald green and niclel plated bases.||.||.|
|Starkins, W.R.||Rochester, N.Y.||?-1942-?||"Equable" Fully automatic. Powered by electric motor. Weighed ten pounds.||.||Starkins|
|Telegraph Apparatus Co.||325 West Huron St. Chicago, Ill.||1943-1950s||McElroy's second operation.
Models CP-500 and CP-800 with cast base and Vibroplex like uppers. Models CP-510 and CP-810 with slab base and 'hole in the wall' uppers.
|Teleplex Co.||72 Cortland St.
New York, N.Y.
|??||'Telespeed" was a right angle bug inexpensively made. Thin base with suction cup feet. Sold for $5.60. A heavy base model for $.75 extra. Very similar to Bell Novely Company bug. Likely the same maker.||Photo||Shown in Teleplex flyer|
|Thomas, O.M., Electric||St. Louis, Mo.||?-1914-?||Oliver M. Thomas.||.||JOT|
|Tinsley Transmitting Machine||?||1909||.||.||.|
|Ultimate Transmitter Co.||Los Angeles, Ca.||1925-1932||'73' bug. Small compact 'wrap-around' design for portable operation.||.||.|
|United Electrical Mfg.||25 Broad St.New York
|Martin Vibroplex operation.||.||United|
|Vailograph International Co.||Guaranty Building, Minneapolis, Minn.||1908-1912||A device added to a straight key for making self completing dots. Also advertised under "United States Vailograph Mfg. Co."||.||Vail|
|Vibroplex||New York, N.Y.
1994 - present
|Vibroplex and Mecograph Co.||New York, N.Y.||1913-1914||Name used for short time after Vibroplex bought Mecograph. No known bugs bearing this name, thought at least one Vibroplex key exists with the characteristic 'tiger stripes' of Mecograph.||.||.|
|Western Electric||New York, N.Y.||1916-?||.||.||.|
|Westinghouse Air Brake||Wilmerding, Pa.||?||Westinghouse could be owner, not maker.||.||.|
|Wheaton Research & Development||Wheaton, MD.||1930s - 1950s||"The NewGo-Devil" Fingerpiece is a cylinder of plexiglass. Otherwise like the older "Go-Devil."||.||.|
|Zip-Key||?||?||Simple design on olive wrinkle base. Markings are inked onto the base.||.||.|
This compilation would not have been possible without the help of others. I am grateful to the following individuals for input, advice and encouragement: Larry Monroe, Doug Seneker, Russ Kleinman, Tom French, Lynn Burlingame, Gerry Maira, Tony Rogozinski, Gil Schlehman and Bob Schwartz.
Special thanks to the following for providing photographs that the author did not have: Gerry Maira,...
Emory, A.H. -- In the mid 30's, Al Emory made the Go-Devil with some of the posts cast into the frame. The remainder of the parts were assembled. The base had tapered sides; the damper was simply a bent rod. The base was painted black. The bugs have no serial numbers. A larger and less common gray based bug was made also; it was over 9" long, being about a third larger than the other model. It is thought that less than 500 of these bugs were made.
Wheaton Research and Development -- In the early 50s, Emory made the Go-Devil again. This time looking a bit more modern. The dot spring was straight rather than the popular "U" shape. The finger piece is a cylindrical piece of Lucite.
Go-Devil Instrument Company -- In 1958, Emory made the Go-Devil, Model U that could function as a bug or sideswiper. This key had Aluminum construction; the pieces were attached to an engraved metal plate which is screwed to a hollow sub-base. Later a three terminal version was made that that could be used as a keyer paddle in addition to being a bug and sideswiper.
A to Z Electric Novelty Company -- Horace G. Martin, (Vibroplex) inventor of the 'semi-automatic' key, later called a bug, had many patents to protect his invention. Others decided to see if they could cash in on the popularity of bugs. In violation of the Martin patents, others made bugs. One of these manufacturers was the A to Z Electric Novelty company of Chicago, Illinois. Some A to Z labels even boldly stated "The Improved Vibroplex". Martin's partner was J. E. Albright. He was a clever businessman and was successful through litigation in shutting down all the manufacturing of "bastard" bugs (as they were referred to in the years before W.W.I). Even though Albright shut them down, there were many thousands of the "bustard" bugs in service. He convinced Western Union and others that some of the bugs they had in service were illegal. To legalize the "bustard" bugs, Albright sold a label that could be riveted to the bug absolving Martin/Vibroplex from any liability, yet authorizing its use. Most of the A to Z bugs surviving the dumpster have the Albright label (Mine does not). The original manufacturer's label was usually removed. There is evidence that A to Z made about 10,000 bugs, both single lever and dual lever. Without a label they are difficult to identify since they are a carbon copy of a similar vintage Martin Vibroplex. One clue is that some A to Z bugs have a "1" cast into the underside of the base. The "Oscilloplex" may have been a legal bug; it made dashes with the dot contact.
Thomas, O.M. -- Very little is known about this key. It is documented in "Story of the Key" as being one of the illegal 'Chinese copies' of the pre W.W.I era. It does not have a serial number. The bug is a carbon copy of the Vibroplex Original except for the damper which resembles an X-model damper. Issue No. 14 of the TVC states, "1914, Vibroplex copy made by Oliver Thomas and sold by O.M. Thomas Electric Co. Sued for patent infringement by J.E. Albright and manufacture enjoined". Only two Thomas bugs are known to exist.
Standard Radio -- Very little is known about this key. They were made with and without labels in nickel and black enamel bases. (Some collectors state red and green bases also.) They resemble a Vibroplex Original that was designed for very heavy duty use. Some have large tungsten contacts. The damper is "U" shaped like the Vibroplex Lightning bug but much heavier. The dot and dash posts are slotted on the top and sit on a small pedestal. The Standard is a very attractive key. The Standards with labels are serial numbered and all known specimens fall into the range of 1500 to 1515. Some specimens bear the model number "6" on the label; some have the model area of the label left blank. There seems to be several dozen or more in private collections.
Pat Products -- Nothing is known about this key. One specimen exists in a private collection. It is made of all brass construction, including the base.
Postal Telegraph -- Little is known about this key. All that can be said is that it was made before the Western Union, Postal Telegraph merger of 1943. It is an Original type design on a hollow cast iron base with the inscription, "property of Postal Telegraph Cable Co." cast into the base on the top side. The damper is a single post. Approximately a dozen are known to exist in collections. Serial numbers known to exist are 1002, 1014, 1035, 1103, 1122 and 1133. This would indicate about 150 of these bugs were made.
Breedlove, B.H. -- Bernard Breedlove made approximately 200 of the Codetrol keys. Most were sold in Europe. The Codetrol is an extremely well made and well operating right-angle design. The moving parts were enclosed in a rectangular tube. The finish is black wrinkle with chrome. There are less than a half dozen in private collections.
King & Co. -- Nothing is known about this key. There is one example in the Electro-Physics storage room at the Smithsonian Institute. It resembles the Vibroplex Original in every respect. The label reads, "The Original American Vibroplex". It is assumed that this key was one of the illegal "Chinese copies" of the W.W.I era. No King bugs are known to exist in private collections.
Leach Relay Co. -- Leach Relay, the company that made all sorts of industrial relays for the past 80 years, made at least two bugs. There was a "SPEEDOPLEX #1" and a "SPEEDOPLEX #2". Specimens of each are known to exist. There are no more than a dozen of each in private collections. The SPEEDOPLEX should not be confused with the Logan and Johnson SPEED-X keys. It is interesting to note that Leach also made a relay that would allow keying a spark transmitter with a bug or a hand key with small contacts. These relays are considered quite collectable by Wireless collectors. Some years ago I met a fellow who had been an agent for Leach. He sold the bug and relay combination to shipboard wireless operators and went aboard shop to install them.
Westinghouse Air Brake -- The division of Westinghouse that made air brakes for the railroads apparently had a go at making bugs. One specimen is known to exist in a private collection.
Bell Novelty -- Bell made a code practice set that came with a very austere looking right angle bug. It appears to be made from sheet metal stampings and other assembled parts. Only one specimen is known to exist.
Brooklyn Metal Stamping Co. -- Unusual design in that it has a dot spring that is not only vertical, but attached to the dot post rather than the pendulum. The damper is tube with a ball in it. The pendulum strikes the ball which in turn moves into the tube. At least one "Brooklyn Bug" as they are referred to was shipped in a box labeled "J-36" with a date several years prior to the beginning of W.W.II.
D&K Mfg. -- The Dinger is a right angle bug closely resembling, but different from the Mecograph designs. Some of the moving pieces are below, in the hollow base. One of the adjustments is quite like early telegraph relays using a cord wrapped around a windlass.
Delany Telegraphic Transmitter Co. -- The Auto-Dot was an unusual low profile design with a wooden base on an iron sub-base. Burned in to the wood is a cloverleaf with the letters DTTC, one letter in each leaf of the clover.
Dunn, Thomas J. & Co. --The Dunduplex
made dots by releasing tension from the spring like the Mecograph bugs.
However the Dunduplex was not a right angle design. Both single lever and
double lever models exists. Contrary to other reports, the dual lever does
not have two pendulums and is not fully automatic. It has a single pendulum
that forks to support two weights. The fork is in the horizontal plane.
Once specimen exists that has the fork in the vertical plane. In both models,
the pendulum and the lever are separate pieces, unlike traditional designs.
Several dozen Dunduplex bugs are known to exist in private collections.
Some specimens have Albright labels. This is a real mystery as the Mecograph
and hence Dunn methods of making dots are not an infringement on the Martin
The earliest Dunduplex appears to be a small compact 2" x 4" box with all parts encased in a box called the "Peerless". There are three buttons on top, one for dash, one for dot and for circuit closing. The bug is advertised in the Jan 1909 Commercial Telegraphers Journal and there is a product review in the Feb. issue. This must have been the model "A", for in Aug. 1909 the Model "B" of the Peerless Key, a dual lever, has a design more like we are used to seeing except longer. By Sept 1910 the Peerless name is gone and it looks like ones normally seen in collections and in print.
Bunnell, J.H. -- Bunnell made the Gold bug, a very attractive key, but not very usable. Approximately 1200 were made. The early part of the run had a fixed paddle; the later part of the run had an adjustable paddle. Some radio retailers were taken to giving them away with orders of $15 or more. Bunnell then stayed out of the bug market until 1940 when they bought the rights to make the Martin Research and Mfg. FLASH Keys. These were called Bunnell-Martin Flash Keys. The Flash keys are not rare, though not easy to find. Bunnell also made J-36s for the war effort. The Bunnell J-36 is not near as plentiful as the Lionel J-36. Bunnell also made a limited number of bugs for the Navy's department of Steam Engineering. No date of manufacture is known, but suspected to be pre W.W.II or W.W.II. Two examples of these keys are in private collections. One has a serial number in the 50 range, the other has no label. In the late 50s. There was also a commercial version the the Navy bug; only one example is known to exist. Bunnell made the Speed Key, looking very much like a FLASH key with a single post and wheel for a damper.
Martin Research & Manufacturing-- In 1933, Horace Martin, founder and owner of Vibroplex, sold Vibroplex to John LaHiff. Martin retained the right to manufacture keys. He made the same basic keys that he did at Vibroplex, although the quality control seems to be a little better. The keys were available in black wrinkle and chrome. These keys were manufactured with a serial number in the 5,000 to 6,000 range. It is not known how many were made; they are not common, but not rare either. Martin later sold to Bunnell.
Electro-Bug -- The Electro Bugs were made in Fresno California and later in San Francisco. The design includes the "T" bar handle. There is an electromagnet that pulls on the pendulum. This was in series with the telegraph line and was supposed to make heavier weighted dots. There is a rheostat in series with the electromagnet. These bugs were made with a nickel plated base and a black enamel base. The serial numbers for this bug seem to be in the 10,000 plus range. There was also a model without an electromagnet call the Electro Jr. It was also sold and the Model 11. The Juniors were made in black and green bases. There was a wireless model available with 3/8" contacts. The serial numbers for the Jr. and 11 seem to be less than 1,000. The Model 11 was available in black, red, blue, green and nickel. All models had the serial number stamped on the bottom. Electro is believed to be the father of the Lees Logan line of keys as they had the "T" bar handle also. These keys seem to be fairly common.
Vailograph International Co. -- This telegraph device was not really a bug. It was an add on instrument that allowed the ordinary straight key to function as a bug. The very delicately constructed mechanism had a vertical pendulum and sat down on top of the straight key. By pulling the straight key lever up dots were made. Dashes were formed by pushing the key down. Only only a few examples are known to exist in a private or public museums.
Speed-X Radio Manufacturing -- In the early 30s, Stewart Johnson, manufactured the Speed-X High Speed Key. It had a rounded Nickel frame with a reverse arm back to the top pivot. It had a single post damper. The company was sold to Les Logan in 1937. Logan popularized the SPEED-X line making many thousands of SPEED-X bugs.
Cardwell, Alan, D. -- Not much is known of this maker. We do know that Cardwell made wireless and radio components, particularly variable condensers during the early years of radio. Cardwell is also know to have made an early KOB circa. 1875, with a sounder similar to the A.B. Lyman sounder. Only one Cardwell bug is known to exist in a private or public museum. The bug is a dual lever design and is identified with an inscription on the damper; it does not have a traditional label.