Here’s something a friend showed me and let me photograph. He’s more into clocks than telegraph keys, so asked me to research it. I’d never seen such a thing before, thinking that all “bugs”* were Vibroplexes, but apparently not! At this site I found information that the “Jr” moniker is there because it lacks the electromagnetic assist that the Electro-bugs had. Indeed, as you can see from the photos, it’s just a plain bug.
Apparently the Electro company started in Fresno, California, which is surprising as Fresno is still in the middle of nowhere, and back in 1927, Fresno was tiny and not near any major trading crossroads. But they eventually moved to San Francisco. The bug shown in the photos was apparently made in Fresno.
And this site claims that the Electro-Bug Jr. was made for the amateur radio market! And this YouTube video shows one in action! This site shows an Electro-Bug Jr. made in San Francisco in 1928, which then dates the one shown on this post to 1927.
The bug I show in the pictures here is incomplete in that it doesn’t have the adjustable weight needed to create dits. But it’s interesting to look at the connector at the end of the cable—rather unorthodox in today’s world!
Following are several photographs that I took today.
* A “bug” is a mechanical keyer. Pushing the lever in one direction allows the operator to send “dahs” individually by hand. However, pushing the lever in the other direction creates a series of mechanical “dits.” So (in my mind, at least), it’s half a keyer. An electronic keyer creates “dits” when pushed in one direction and “dahs” when pushed in the other, without having to make each dit or dah individually. Most HF radios these days have electronic keyers built in. On the rare occasions I use CW, I use my beloved Bencher paddle to run the keyer.