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Optical telemetry of the ECG from a patient to a power-line operated display can be safely done without the nuisances normally associated with battery-operated equipment. Such instrumentation can also be designed for reliability, convenience and simplicity of use, adherence to current standards (medical and electronic), and ease of repair without compromising performance parameters. Using novel techniques, we have designed an ECG system that meets American Heart Association standards, uses no special components, and operates continuously from a pair of 1.5 V AA penlight cells for more than 5 months. Electrical safety is ensured by an inexpensive 6-ft-long flexible fiber-optic cable between the battery-powered patient package and the power-line operated display.