The Dow-Key Project



New!  Special Thanks to Wayne Blenkhorn, VE1BAB for sending me this flyer for the early Dow-Key Original! (10.6 MB)

[It will take a while to download, but it is worth the effort!]

Paul Dow was a manufacturer of speed keys in Canada and the United States.  There is only limited information available about his keys, though many collections have one or two.  I am developing a history of the company and a list of models and variations.

The Dow-Key Census!    

If you have a Dow-Key bug I am anxious to hear from you!  I am conducting a census of Dow-Keys, and need data on at least two hundred of them to compile meaningful information.  The serial number ranges and model information will hopefully allow me to estimate production dates and quantities.  Please email me at n7cfo[at] if you have comments or information.  

  The following is a preliminary time line of the Dow Company:

May 15, 1885 Paul Peel Dow born in Gibson, New Brunswick, Canada
1942 or 1943 Starts making speed keys in the basement of his house in Winnipeg at 578 Goulding Street.  The first models (arbitrarily dubbed the "Junior") were not serially numbered and had the label shown in the upper left of this web page.  (See photos)
1943 or 1944 Starts making the "Original" model bug.  (See Photos)
circa 1945 Starts manufacturing the "Bent" Dow.  (See Photos)
September 6, 1949  Patent 2,481,091 issued for Dow Universal (rotary model)  Drawing 1.  Drawing 2.  Text 1Text 2.  This patent was issued to Lawrence L. Dow, Paul Dow's son.  Lawrence was born in the United States while his father was employed in the Washington, DC area.  As a U.S. Citizen it was easier for him to obtain the patent.
June 1949

First known Dow ad, Railroad Telegrapher, June 1949. Shows Universal (rotary) model and Warren, Minnesota address. "Canadian address, 578 Goulding St. Winnipeg, Can." is also listed. 

April 1951  CQ ad for Universal model shows Warren Minn address, and "Canadian Distributor: Sparling Sales Ltd., 120 King Street., Winnipeg,  Canada.
September 1951 Last known Dow bug ad. QST.
1956 Paul Dow retired.  Dow-Key operated by his son,  Gordon Dow.
July 1957 Paul P. Dow death.  (Source:  7/23/57 letter from his son, Gordon M. Dow, to Lou Moreau.)  In this letter he states "For the past three years we [Dow-key Company] have concentrated our efforts in another field due to the fact that the fine art of telegraphy is rapidly becoming a lost art due to the introduction of automatic equipment".
December 1957 Dow-Key operation moved to Thief River Falls, Minnesota.  Speed keys no longer produced.
December 1960 Dow "KEY-municator", a  "Professional type cast metal telegraph key - not plastic! Transistorized oscillator", Advertisement. "Thief River Falls, Minn" address.  (see photos)
May 1962 Last known Dow ad, CQ magazine.
1966 Dow-Key operation moved to Broomfield, Colorado.
September 1969 Dow-Key bought out by the Kilovac Company and moved to California.

Photos of Dow-Keys

Return to N7CFO homepage