« Back to "Archives" menu
|| Gerber Scientific Instrument Company
Extent and Forms of Material: 65.5 cubic feet, including
photographs, videotapes and one film (162 boxes)
Creator: Gerber Scientific Instrument Company
Abstract: Records document the Gerber Scientific Instrument
Company, Hartford, Connecticut, and its four subsidiaries: Gerber Garment Technology, Inc., Gerber Scientific
Products, Inc., Gerber Systems Corp., and Gerber Optical, Inc. Gerber Scientific
designs, develops, manufactures, markets and services computer aided design
and computer aided CAD/CAM systems. The records include correspondence, memoranda,
product literature, trade literature, patent records, instruction manuals, proposals,
engineering records, photographs, technical reports, drawings, press releases,
and newspaper clippings.
Repository: Archives Center, National Museum of American History,
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; email@example.com;
Collection Number: AC0929
Processing Note: Processed by Bob Ageton (volunteer), Jennifer
Dannenberg (intern), Adrienne Cain (intern) and Frank Robinson (archives technician),
supervised by Alison L. Oswald, archivist, March 2007.
© 2008 by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.
Information for users of
Conditions Governing Access: The collection
is open for research use.
Physical Access: Researchers must handle unprotected
photographs with gloves. Researchers must use reference copies
of audio-visual materials. When no reference copy exists, the
Archives Center staff will produce reference copies on an “as
needed” basis, as resources allow.
Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use: Copyright
held by the Smithsonian Institution. Collection items available
for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees
concerning copyright restrictions. Reproduction permission from
Archives Center: fees for commercial use.
Preferred Citation: [Title and date of item],
Gerber Scientific Instrument Company Records, 1911-1998, Archives
Center, National Museum of American History, box number X, folder
number XX, digital file number XXXXXXXX
In-depth information about the collection
- Administrative/biographical history
Scope and content
System of arrangement
Related archival materials
- Container listing
- Series 1
- Series 2
- Series 3
- Series 4
- Series 5
- Series 6
- Series 7
- Series 8
- Series 9
- Series 10
- Series 11
- Series 12
Heinz Joseph “Joe” Gerber was born in Vienna, Austria,
on April 17, 1924. In 1940, Gerber escaped the Nazis and immigrated
to New York City and then to Hartford, Connecticut, with his mother
Bertha Gerber, a dressmaker. Gerber’s father, Jacob, is
presumed to have died in a concentration camp. Gerber attended
Weaver High School and graduated in two years (1943). He attended
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, on a
scholarship and earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical
engineering in 1947. As a junior at RPI, Gerber developed the
Gerber Variable Scale, his first invention. The earliest version
of the variable scale was fashioned from an elastic band removed
from a pair of pajamas. Gerber created a rubber rule and scale
that could flow with a curve, expand, contract, and turn a corner.
The scale allows for direct reading of curves, graphs, and graphical
representations, giving direct numerical readings of proportions,
spacing and interpolation. The Variable Scale became the building
block of what would become Gerber Scientific Instrument Inc.
With financial assistance from Abraham Koppleman, a newspaper
and magazine distributor in Hartford, Gerber and
Koppleman formed a partnership and incorporated Gerber Scientific
Instrument Company in 1948. Gerber served as president, Koppleman
as treasurer, and Stanley Levin as secretary. The manufacture
of Variable Scale was jobbed out and the distribution was conducted
from Hartford. Gerber also worked as a design analytical
engineer for Hamilton Standard Propellers of United Aircraft and
for Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Shares of Gerber
Scientific Instrument Company were eventually sold to the public
in 1961, and in 1978, the company changed its name to Gerber Scientific,
Inc. In the 1960s and 1970s, Gerber developed the first series
of precision, computer-driven cutting systems for the apparel
industry called the Gerber Cutter. The cutters introduced automation
to the garment industry. In 1967, Gerber realized that the U.S.
garment industry, due to a lack of automation, was faced with
increasing overseas competition. Gerber’s solution was to
engineer the GERBERcutter S-70, a machine that cuts apparel quickly
and effectively while using less cloth.
Gerber holds more than 600 United States and foreign patents.
Many of his patents relate to the United States apparel industry.
In 1994, Gerber was awarded the National Medal of Technology by
President Clinton for helping to revolutionize the optical, garment,
automotive, and other industries. His pioneering achievements
- a generation of data readers (electromechanical devices
that converted graphical data directly into computer readable
- projection systems that interactively converted information
from aerial photographs for use in computers;
- devices that plotted
digital output data from computer cards or tape;
- digital numerically-controlled
drafting machines which verify the accuracy of the cutting path
of numerical machine tools;
- a photoplotter (drafting machine configured
with a unique light source to directly draw high accuracy layouts
of printed circuit board masters on photographic film or glass
with light beams); and
- systems with laser
technology to draw at high speeds.1
Subsequent subsidiaries of Gerber Scientific, Inc., were:
Gerber Garment Technology, Inc. (GGT);
Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. (GSP); Gerber Systems Corp. (GSC),
and Gerber Optical, Inc., (GO). GGT
makes computer-controlled cutting and design equipment for apparel,
automotive, aerospace and other industries. GSP produces systems
for sign-making and graphic arts industries. GSC makes production
systems for printing, industrial machinery and other industries.
GO makes equipment for the optical-lens manufacturing industry.2
In 1954, Gerber married Sonia Kanciper. They had a daughter,
Melisa Tina Gerber, and a son, David Jacques Gerber. H. Joseph
Gerber died on August 9, 1996, at the age of 72.
1 National Medal of Technology, 1994.
2 W. Joseph Campbell, "High Tech and Low Key as Gerber Scientific Mounts a Recovery Philosophy that Reflects Innovative Founder," Hartford Courant, May 16, 1994.
The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company Records document the
company’s designs, development, manufacture, and marketing
of computer-aided design and computer-aided CAD/CAM systems. The
records are arranged into twelve series and consist of Personal,
Corporate Records, Engineering Department Records, Product Literature,
Instruction Manuals/User Guides, Proposals, Photographs, Trade
Literature, Press Releases and Newspaper Clippings, Patent Records,
Lectra Systèmes Litigation Materials, and Audio Visual
Series 1, Personal, 1949-1997, contains biographical
information, correspondence, a list of all patents awarded to
Gerber, select speeches, awards, photographs, and documentation
on David R. Pearl, President of Gerber Garment Technology (GGT).
The biographical information includes sketches, articles, magazine
profiles and obituaries about H. Joseph Gerber. The correspondence,
1943-1948, contains letters primarily between Gerber and Abraham
Kopplemann about Gerber’s citizenship and invention of the
Gerber Variable Scale.
Award information includes the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Honorary Degree (1981), the National Medal of Technology (1994)
and nomination documents for the Heinz Award (1995). The National
Medal of Technology was established in 1980 by Congress and was
first awarded in 1985. The medal is awarded annually by the President
of the United States and is the highest honor awarded in the United
States for technological achievement. An individual, team up to
four individuals, a company, or a division of a company is eligible.
The materials here contain program notes, photographs, press releases
and correspondence relating to Gerber’s receipt of the award.
The photographs consist of black-and-white and color images. There
are portraits, head shots, staged shots of Gerber with various
Gerber company products and H. Joseph Gerber and company employees
at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
The Pearl materials contain three photocopied volumes of diaries
kept by David R. Pearl, President of Gerber Garment Technology.
The diaries were maintained by Pearl from July 21,
1968 to June 6, 1977, to document Pearl’s
and H. Joseph Gerber’s activities concerning the development
of the technology and the establishment of a business to market
computer-controlled fabric cutting devices. One notebook contains
some materials later than 1977. There are diary entries for September
12, 1979, February 1, 1980, and October 29, 1984.
Series 2, Corporate Records, 1968-1999, includes
administrative records, an Industrial Projects Eligibility
Review, annual reports, shareholders reports, newsletters,
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) materials, Securities and Exchange
Commission (SEC) materials, Gerber Museum documents, and empty
Gerber Scientific Instrument Company binders. The administrative
documents consist of a corporate history, mission statement, organizational
chart, company map, time line and biographies of key corporate
personnel. There are two organizational charts: one for the Engineering
Organization (software, mechanical and electrical divisions) from
1987 and one for the subsidiary Gerber Garment Technology, Inc.
(Gerber Garment Technology (GGT)), dated 1985. Additional organizational
charts can be found with the 1968 annual report. The Industrial
Projects Eligibility Review was submitted to the Connecticut
Development Authority by Gerber Scientific Intsrument (GSI) to
facilitate financing for future expansion of the company. A copy
of the company’s articles of incorporation are here. The
newsletters included in this series are in-house publications
for employees only. The newsletter Communiqué,
1960, is in Series 4, Product Literature. The NYSE materials include
press releases, photographs, the listing application to the NYSE
and printed material about Gerber Scientific, Inc. joining the
NYSE in October 1980. Gerber Scientific is traded on the Stock
Exchange as GRB. The Securities and Exchange Commission files
contain Form S-3, a registration statement and the Annual Report,
and Form 10-K for Gerber Scientific, Inc. The Gerber Museum file
includes photographs of artifacts and a 1996 memo and fax discussing
the establishment of a museum to honor H. Joseph Gerber.
Series 3, Engineering Department Records, 1966-1990,
is the largest series and is arranged alphabetically by the engineer’s
last name and then alphabetically by subject/topic. The records
include the files of: Ed LaGraize, David Logan, Bud Rich, Ron
Webster, and Ken Wood. The majority of engineering files belong
to David Logan. Logan joined Gerber Scientific Instrument in 1957
as a project engineer. From 1959 to 1961, he was chief engineer
and then became Vice President of Engineering from 1961 to 1963.
From 1963 to 1980, Logan served as Senior Vice President of Engineering.
He holds several patents, primarily in the field of plotting devices
and control systems. The engineering files contain technical memoranda,
correspondence, drawings, product literature, trade literature,
notes, and drawings.
Series 4, Product Literature, 1953-1996, contains
informational sheets for a variety of products available from
Gerber Scientific, Inc. and its subsidiary companies. Gerber Scientific
Intsrument (GSI) creates designs, manufactures and promotes data
reduction equipment of many types. Data reduction equipment allows
complex mathematical problems to be solved quickly and accurately.
Both analogue and digital systems are offered. The bulk of the
product literature falls into the following categories: instruments,
data reader systems, recorders, special scanning tables, oscillogram
amplitude tabulators, standard system scanners, and plotters.
The series is arranged alphabetically by name of product with
a few exceptions.
Series 5, Instruction Manuals/User Guides, 1953-1980,
undated, is divided into two subseries, Gerber Scientific Instrument
Company manuals and other companies’ manuals. This series
contains instruction manuals, maintenance manuals, and users’
guides for a variety of Gerber Scientific, Inc. products. The
Gerber System Model 1434, Ultra Precise Artwork Generator which
provides precision photo-plotting on photo-sensitive material
is well represented among the manuals. The other companies represented
include Bendix Industrial Controls and the KOH-I-NOOR Rapidograph,
Series 6, Proposals, 1961-1980, consists of
bound certified and signed technical and bid proposals completed
by Gerber Scientific Instrument Company detailing available and
actual estimated costs and pricing data for Gerber products. The
proposals were assembled for specific companies such as North
Series 7, Photographs, 1948-1974, undated,
is further divided into three subseries: Product and Client Files,
1966-1974, undated; Gerber Scientific Instrument (Gerber Scientific
Intsrument (GSI) Corporate, 1948-1970, undated; and Numerical,
1966-1974, undated photographs. The majority of photographs are
8” x 10” black-and-white prints. The product and client
file photographs are arranged alphabetically. The Gerber Scientific
Instrument (GSI) corporate photographs include photographs of
GSI buildings both interior and exterior shots, employees, employee
functions such as banquets, annual meetings, tours, stockholder
meetings, and trade shows. The numerical photographs are arranged
numerically according to the number assigned on the reverse of
the photograph. Some of the numerical photographs are identified
by product name, but others are labeled unidentified.
Series 8, Trade Literature, 1947-1992, is arranged
alphabetically by company name.
The trade literature in this series is from competitors.
Series 9, Press Releases and Newspaper Clippings, 1943-1996,
is divided into two subseries, Press Releases, 1972-1982 and Newspaper
Clippings, 1943-1996. The press releases are arranged chronologically.
This series contains information on H. Joseph Gerber, his company
and its subsidiaries, and the garment and apparel industry. The
newspaper clippings are arranged chronologically and include a
wide variety of local Connecticut and United States newspapers
and industry specific magazines such as Bobbin and Apparel
Series 10, Patent Records, 1911-1985, contains
copies of patents, correspondence with patent attorneys and the
United States Patent and Trademark Office, patent search results,
and other legal filings associated with the patenting process.
The materials are arranged chronologically with the name of the
equipment or instruments being patented noted.
Series 11, Lectra Systèmes Litigation Materials,
1968-1990, contains documents that mainly deal with Lectra
(France), but there are documents about patent infringement for
Lectra (Japan) and Lectra (United Kingdom). The materials
consist of depositions by David Pearl, then president of Gerber
Garment Technology, and David Siegelman, then Vice President and
General Manager for Lectra Systèmes, Inc., in the United
States. Confidential progress reports, memoranda, correspondence,
competition reports, drawings and sketches, notes, and other documents
summarize events in the litigation history.
Lectra Systèmes was formed on November 12, 1973 at Bordeaux-Cestas
(France) by two visionary engineers, Jean and Bernard Etcheparre.
They developed a computer system, the LECteur-TRAceur 200, which
automatically calculated and plotted all sizes of an item of apparel.
The Lectra Systèmes litigation materials document Gerber
Garment Technology’s claim that Lectra infringed upon Gerber’s
line of cutting machines. The specific patents being infringed
are United States patents: 3,955,458; 4,205,835; and 3,765,289.
In September 1986, Lectra introduced a new line of cutting machines
that cost roughly half as much as Gerber’s top-of-the-line
competing system. Gerber Garment Technology filed suit in the
United States and France as Gerber Garment Technology, Inc.
v. Lectra Systems, Inc. Civil Action No. 1:86-cv-2054CAM.
In 1992, Lectra Systems, Inc., appealled the judgment of the United States District Court for the Northern District infringement of Gerber's U.S. Patent No. 3,955,458 ('458 patent) and denied Lectra's claim that Gerber's U.S. Patent No., 4,205,835 ('835 patent) is unenforceable.
Series 12, Audio Visual Materials, 1986-1998,
includes 3⁄4” U-matic, 1⁄2” VHS, audio
cassettes, BetaCam SP, and one Super 8mm color, silent camera
original reversal film. The majority the of audio visual materials
cover interviews with H. Joseph Gerber, the National Technology
of Medal ceremony, and sales and marketing footage for various
The records are arranged into twelve series.
- Series 1, Personal,
- Subseries 1, Biographical Information, 1949-1997
- Subseries 2, Correspondence, 1943-1949, 1966, 1985, 1989
- Subseries 3, List of Patents, 1951-1995
- Subseries 4, Speeches, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1992, 1995, undated
- Subseries 5, Awards, 1981-1995
- Subseries 6, Photographs, circa 1980s, 1994, undated
- Subseries 7, David R. Pearl, 1968-1984
- Series 2, Corporate
- Subseries 1, Administrative, circa 1977-1995
- Subseries 2, Industrial Projects Eligibility Review, undated
(contains articles of incorporation for Gerber Scientific)
- Subseries 3, Annual Reports, 1968-1999
- Subseries 4, Shareholders Reports, 1990-1995, 1997, 1998
- Subseries 5, Newsletters, 1969-1996
- Subseries 6, New York Stock Exchange, 1980 October
- Subseries 7, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), 1983-1992
- Subseries 8, Gerber Museum, 1996
- Subseries 9: Gerber Scientific Instrument Company binders (empty),
- Series 3, Engineering
Department Records, 1966-1990
- Subseries 1, Ed LaGraize’s Files, 1978-1990
- Subseries 2, Dave Logan’s Engineering Files, 1966-1990
- Subseries 3, Dave Logan’s Competitors Files, 1966-1982
- Subseries 4, Bud Rich’s Files, 1967-1980
- Subseries 5, Ron Webster’s Files, 1963-1992
- Subseries 6, Ken Wood’s Files, 1976-1980
- Subseries 7, Ken Wood’s Case Study of Model 1434, 1966-1989
- Series 4,
Product Literature, 1953-1996
- Series 5,
Instruction Manuals/User Guides, 1953-1980, undated
- Subseries 1, Gerber Scientific Instrument Company, 1953-1979
- Subseries 2, Other Companies, 1962, 1980
- Series 6,
- Series 7, Photographs,
- Subseries 1, Product and Client Files, 1966-1974, undated
- Subseries 2, Gerber Scientific Instrument Corporate, 1948-1970,
- Subseries 3, Numerical, 1966-1974, undated
- Series 8, Trade
- Series 9, Press
Releases and Newspaper Clippings, 1943-1998
- Subseries 1, Press Releases, 1972-1998
- Subseries 2, Newspaper clippings, 1943-1996
- Series 10,
Patent Records, 1911-1985
- Series 11,
Lectra Systèmes Litigation Materials, 1968-1990
- Series 12,
Audio Visual Materials, 1986-1998
||Computer Control Company
||Air Force Tactical Command
||Bits Per Inch
||Control Data Corporation
||Computer Graphics Terminology
||Computer Information Systems
||Computer Peripherals, Inc.
||Defense Mapping Agency?
||Data Management System
||Distributed Numerical Control
||Engineering Technical Bulletin
||Fused Biconic taper (fiber optic connector)?
||Graphix Advantage 9sign-design software)
||Gerber Automatic Digitizer Control
||Graphic Arts Data Terminal
||Gerber Analogue Data Reduction System
||Gerber Coordinate Digitizer
||Gerber Cutting Technology
||Gerber Digitizing Accessory
||Gerber Digital Data Reduction System
||Graphic Data Corp.
||General Data Stream?
||Gerber Garment Technology, Inc.
||Gerber Large Area Coordinate Digitizer Model
||Gerber line Follower
||Gerber Optical (lens making)
||Gerber Oscillogram Amplitude Tabulator
||Gerber Projection Data Reduction System
||Gerber Paper Tape Punch Output Device
||Gerber Systems Corporation (electronics and printing industries)
||Gerber Scientific Instrument Co.
||Gerber Scientific Instrument Co.
||Gerber Sewing Machine (e.g. GSM-80)
||Gerber Scientific Products, Inc. (sign making)
||Gerber Symbol Services
||Gerber Systems Technology, Inc.
||Human Interface Processor
||Interactive Design System
||International Business Machines
||Industria Macchine Elettroniche (a company of the Edison
||Laser Digital Imaging
||Least Recently Loaded?
||Medium-Scale Integration (digital/electrical engineering)?
||Mutoh, Inc. (apparel and sign-making company in Japan)
||National Aeronautical and Space Administration
||National Cash Register
||Nippon Electric Corp.
||Optical Exposure Head
||Optical Exposure Head Model F (for flash)
||Optical Exposure Head Model I (for incandescent)
||Optical Exposure Head M 9
||Original Equipment Manufacturer
||Optical Line Follower
||Optical Mark Reader
||Operations Management Software
||Personal Computer Network
||Peripheral Dynamics, Inc.
||Power Supply Cabinet Model B
||Power Supply Cabinet Model D
||Power Supply Cabinet Model F
||Pulse Width Modulation
||SCRipt (file extension name)? or Standard Context Routing?
||Servo Motor Driver
||Storage Service Provider? Service Switching Point?
||Thompson Ramo Woolridge
Some materials in French, Italian, and Japanese.
This collection was donated by David Gerber, son of
H. Joseph Gerber, on December 23, 2006.
Additional materials documenting H. Joseph Gerber in this repository
may be found in the following collection: Gerber Fabric Cutter
Video Documentation, February 1996 (collection number 609). This
videohistory documents the inventor, engineers, assembly workers,
operators and other technicians who worked with the computer-controlled
Automation -- 1960-1990
Fabric cutters -- 1960-1990
Computerized instruments -- 1960-1990
Machinery -- 1960-1990
New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
Pearl, David R.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Business records -- 1950-2000.