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This instrument, made around 1900, was presented to the College Museum at Maynooth University by the family of Professor A.W. Conway.
The coherer is a primitive form of radio signal detector used in the first radio receivers during the wireless telegraphy era at the beginning of the 20th century. Its use in radio was based on the 1890 findings of French physicist Edouard Branly. When a radio frequency signal is applied to the device, the metal particles would cling together or “cohere”, reducing the initial high resistance of the device, thereby allowing a much greater direct current to flow through it. In a receiver, the current would activate a bell to make a record of the received signal.