This Vibroplex model is known as the Vibrokeyer and is the company's upgraded model with jeweled movement. The design of this style of key dates back to 1960. Unlike an iambic keyer that incorporates two levers each producing a dit or a dash, the Vibrokeyer employs a single lever. The Vibroplex website describes the action as follows " Unlike iambic paddles that can be squeezed to send individual letters, a single lever paddle is a single arm that pivots between the dit and dah contacts for clean sounding code sent with the electronic keyer in your transceiver.". The Vibroplex website goes on to state: "The Vibrokeyer has long been the go-to standard for DXpeditioners for the fastest, snappiest CW transmission. The knob and thumb piece arrangement reminiscent of the "bug" keys is the most ergonomically correct for CW operation.".
The Vibroplex company makes two versions of the Vibrokeyer along with a choice of a black, chrome or gold plated base. The "Upgraded" version has a "jeweled spring-loaded movement". Both styles look the same from the outside. The upgraded model has jeweled trunion screws and pins thus meaning that the pins ride on jewels instead of metal on metal. The pins on the upgraded model are rounded at the end whereas on the standard version they come to a point. Vibroplex claims the upgraded model "gives the key a slightly more “free” feel than the standard trunion pin and screws have. But for the Vibrokeyer, the jeweled spring loaded movement only affects the dit contact. On an iambic key both levers would benefit from the jeweled movement.
According to the "Birth dates of Vibroplex keys" by John Elwood, WW7P the Vibroplex vibrokeyer first appeared in the January 1960 issue of QST on page 140 and is still in production today.
In October 1960 the very first "73" magazine was published. On page 57 of this issue there is an ad for a Vibrokeyer. The picture/drawing of the Vibrokeyer in the ad has the nameplate facing the opposite direction as the nameplate on the Vibrokeyer featured on this site. The ad states the base is a heavy beige color with red finger and thumb pieces. The listed price is $15.95
The Vibroplex company
Founded in 1905 in New York.
1979 the company went from New York to Portland, Maine.
In 1907 Mr. Martin briefly moved the company to Norcross Georgia and sold his keys under the name of United Electric Mfg. Co.
By 1910 Vibroplex bugs were manufactured back in New York and were sold under the Vibroplex name and New York on the nameplate.
In 1995 S. Felton Mitchell Jr., WA4OSR, purchased Vibroplex and moved the company to Mobile Alabama.
In 2009 Scott Robbins, W4PA purchased The Vibroplex Company and relocated it to Knoxville, Tennessee. Currently the company is located at 2906 Tazewell Pike, Suite A2B, Knoxville, TN 37918.
Vibroplex is the oldest continuously operating business in Amateur Radio. They were founded in New York in 1905 by Horace Martin, the inventor of the semi-automatic or "bug" Morse code key. After many years in New York and a handful of ownership changes over the 115 year period, Vibroplex has been operating in Knoxville, TN since 2009. Vibroplex keys are manufactured in the USA and they presently manufacture Morse code keys under the Vibroplex and Bencher brands. In addition Vibroplex manufacturers INRAD(International Radio) which is aftermarket crystal and roofing filters for use in transceivers and receivers from the 1960's to the present day. The company also supplies the OEM filters for the Elecraft K3S transceiver. In 2017 the company introduced the INRAD line of microphone and headset products. To complete a ham station the company also manufacturers the Par Endfedz antennas for both single and multi band operation.
With W7FG Vintage Manuals, Vibroplex creates reproduction manuals for vintage Amateur Radio, shortwave radio, scanners, audio and test equipment. They have 17,000 titles in stock for both service and operation manuals for equipment dating from the 1930's to the present day.
In addition, Vibroplex is the North American distributor for Spiderbeam, Easy-Rotor-Control, mAT-TUNER automatic antenna tuners, 4O3A Signature Products, and DXPatrol receivers.
If it comes from Vibroplex you known it has to be good! Although I personally prefer their pre Knoxville TN keys as the few that I have examined seem to be built with a touch better quality then their modern day equivalent.
Another way to look at Vibroplex is from a quote by former owner S. Felton Mitchell Jr., (W4OA, ex-WA4OSR) “The Vibroplex name is older than amateur radio and has come to represent the one piece of equipment in the ham shack that symbolizes the interest, camaraderie, and esprit de corps of the world-wide ham radio community.”