From International Dictionary of Marine Aids to Navigation
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Rotary device, driven from the camshaft of an internal combustion engine, that interrupts the direct current in the primary winding of the induction coil and transmits high voltages in correct sequence to the spark plugs.

Please note that this is the term as it stands in the original IALA Dictionary edition (1970-1989)

International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities - AISM