A Lost 'Dit' of Vibroplex History

Horace G. Martin invented the Vibroplex "bug" semi-automatic manual keyer while working as a telegrapher in New York City.  The early Vibroplex bugs were manufactured by United Electrical Manufacturing Company in Norcross, Georgia.  This is the story of Edward F. "Buck" Buchanan (1871 - 1910), the man behind United Electrical Manufacturing.

This article appeared in QST, February 2009.  Click here to view the article in PDF. 

The editors of QST omitted the footnotes originally supplied with my text.  For the record, here are my sources:

  1. Ceccherelli, John. “Vibroplex – The Company and its Classic Key,” QST, Vol. 87, No. 1 (January 2003), p. 48.
  2. Holly, William R., The Vibroplex Co., Inc. 1890 to 1990, (Portland, ME: The Vibroplex Co., Inc., 1990).
  3. “Edward F. Buchanan,” The Atlanta Georgian and News, 6 Dec. 1910.
  4. Casale, John (ed), “Horace G. Martin, Part One: The Telegrapher,” The Old Timer’s Bulletin, Nov. 2002.

A Norcross Vibroplex (in the collection of a ham who wishes to remain anonymous).

Edward F. "Buck" Buchanan
Two Views of the Norcross train station.
Buck Buchanan's final resting place under a tombstone donated by a Sunday School Class.


On 8 October 2011, a Norcross Vibroplex returned to Norcross for a special event.  Many thanks go to KT5X for loaning a superbly restored thick-base Norcross bug for the event.  Here are some photographs of his keyer.  Click on a thumbnail image to view the full-size photograph. 


A Norcross United Electrical Manufacturing model is rare enough.  How much more rare must be this dual-lever Vibroplex belonging to Mark Allendorf, KM4AHP?  Mark has a world-class collection of keys that may be seen on his QRZ.com web page.  Click on a thumbnail image to view the full-size photograph. 




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