From H. Joseph Gerber to Gerber-X2

September 28, 2017 | 09:00
Joseph Gerber
Heinz Joseph Gerber
(Photo courtesy National
Academy of Engineering)
Often it is fine to use something without knowing why, what or how, but sometimes it is useful to understand why things are the way they are. This is especially true when it comes to PCB design and PCB manufacturing, an industry that is haunted by a mixed jargon from past and present. In a few lucky cases, interpreting a term incorrectly yields an incorrect design. Worse, it can result in binning a full production run, increasing costs and delays. So, if to you “gerber” is just the name of a file format, then please read on.

Heinz Joseph Gerber (1924-1996)

Heinz Joseph or simply Joseph was born in 1924 in Vienna (Austria) and quickly showed a keen interest in technology. Being Jewish and after having been released from a Nazi camp, he came with his mother to the US in 1940 where they settled in Hartford, Connecticut. Joseph, a rather bright student, raced through school and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and, while doing his homework, invented the Gerber Variable Scale—considered by some the greatest engineering tool since the slide rule.

Gerber Scientific Instrument Company

Joseph founded the Gerber Scientific Instrument Company in 1948; in 1953 he was elected one of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s “Ten Most Outstanding Young Men in America.” During his career he collected 675 patents and, in 1994, was awarded America’s National Medal of Technology, the country’s highest recognition in technology and innovation.

Joseph Gerber's Variable Scale (source Wikipedia, Hannes Grobe/AWI)
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