Above is a 1938 model key made by T.R. McElroy, of Boston, Mass. There are several other styles. Most are identified as a McElroy key by a nameplate on the base. Most collector's introduction to Ted McElroy begins with finding a Mac-Key. Then the questions start -- How old is the key? Who was T.R. McElroy? How did he get into making telegraph keys?
The answers can be found in my book, McElroy, World's Champion Radio Telegrapher (see this page for information on the book). These website pages will also, I hope, andswer those questions. If not, feel free to email me at artifaxbooks (at) yahoo.com (use @ symbol).
Theodore R. McElroy -- Ted, or T.R., or Mac (he hated his given name) -- was born in September 1904. He began his telegraphic career at age 14, as a Western Union messenger, and within a year he was a telegraph operator. By age 21 he was winning code receiving contests and setting records. He set the all-time, still-unbroken official record of 75.2 words per minute in 1939 (corrected to today's 25-dot word standard, that would be 72.2 wpm).
McElroy began manufacturing telegraph keys (his "Mac-Key") in late 1934. By 1941 he had put out about twenty variations of his semi-automatic key, and several variations of straight (hand) keys. There were also code practice oscillators, inked tape keyers and, for the military during WWII, many automatic Morse devices and code training equipment.
Mac made millions of dollars during the war, but when demand shrivelled after the war, he lost most of it. In 1955 he sold his company (by then located in Littleton, Mass.). He continued to work for it for a while, then for other electronics companies. He gave code demonstrations, and became interested in local politics. McElroy died in November 1963. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Boston.
Thanks for visiting,
Tom French, McElroy collector.
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