Dow-Key Bugs

Dow Key was started by Paul Dow in the basement of his home in Winnipeg Canada around 1943. He made speed keys up until around 1957 when the business was moved to Minnesota. After this the company name was changed to Dow-Key Microwave, specializing in switches and relays.

(Click on the pictures below to see larger versions of the photo)


Junior Model (1943)

Paul Dow's first key looked like a Vibroplex and was called the Junior Model. (Gil Schlehman K9WDY collection)


Bent Frame Dow (1945)

With the Bent Frame Dow, the frame is, as the name suggests, tilted sideways giving it the appearance that it was damaged by dropping. However, this is the way the key was designed. When the operator send dots, he is sending "uphill" which lets gravity help return the key lever to the resting state when finished. On the right is an example of a left-handed Bent Frame Dow Bug.


Standard Dow-Key (1947)

The Bent Dow key led to the Standard Dow-Key, which looks like a Bent Frame Dow with a normally positioned frame.


The Dow Universal Early Version (1949)

In 1949 Dow's patent was approved for the Dow Universal, which allowed the operator to physically rotate the lever around the inside of a circular frame. This allowed the key to be used as a right or left handed bug, a straight key or as a bug at an angle in between, like the Bent Frame Dow Key. With the first version of this key, the damper assembly was attached to the end of the rotating lever, so it rotated with the lever.


The Dow Universal Late Version (1950's)

The second version of the Dow Universal had the damper mounted on a separate post on the base. This made the lever asssembly a lot less complicated.

This key could also be used as a right or left handed bug, or as a straight key. However, mounting the damper on the base by itself prevented the key from being used like a Bent Frame Dow; i.e. at an angle other than horizonal or vertical.


The Dow Original (1957-1960)

In 1957 Paul Dow moved his operations to Warren, Minnesota. The only bug he made there was what he called The Original. It actually looks very much like the Dow Key Junior, but on a larger base.


The Dow Keymunicator (1960)

Although not a bug, this straight key made by Dow Key in Warren Minnesota had a built-in transistor oscillator under the base.