Wheatstone tape punch, 1858.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) devised this machine to transmit Morse code in 1858. The ease with which Morse code could deliver mesages encouraged the invention of the tape punch. A machine that punches holes in paper could easily record the dots and dashes of morse code. Wheatstone's tape punch has three keys fixed to bell-crank levers lifted by springs, each controlling a punch. The tape is drawn from a reel by means of a small disc worked from a central key lever. The outside key levers punch the side holes representing the symbols, and by a projection on the centre key, depres it also. The latter is depresed independently for the spaces between words.