Marconi-Victor Morse Code Instruction Records

As radio communication became increasingly important during WW-I, the Marconi Institute collaborated with the Victor Talking Machine Company in 1918 to produce this set of 78 RPM records that could be used to train radio operators prior to their entry into military service.  The original price of this set was $5.00, which was not a small sum in 1918.

The Marconi Institute was the training arm of the American Marconi Company, the premier commercial wireless communication service provider in the US at the time.  In another two years, American Marconi would be absorbed into the RCA corporate structure, and the Marconi Institute would become the RCA Institutes.  The Victor company would survive another decade as an independent entity, before also being absorbed by RCA in 1929.

The set consisted of six 10-inch double-sided records, for a total of 12 lessons.  The numbering system for these records is unique (normal Victor records used a 5-digit catalog number).  A booklet explained the purpose of each lesson, and provided a printed version of what was on the records.  The lessons started with the alphabet and special signs, then proceeded to increasingly difficult text samples.  In later lessons, interference in the form of static and a second transmitter were introduced.  The records and booklet were housed in a storage case as is seen in the first picture.  Unfortunately, the case is in very poor condition, and one of the records is missing.