Gerber was an inventor, born in Vienna, Austria in 1924. He immigrated to the United States during the Nazi era and on a scholarship, attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, earning a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering in 1947. As a junior at RPI, Gerber developed the Gerber Variable Scale, his first invention. The Variable Scale became the building block of what would become Gerber Scientific Instrument 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. In 1978, the company changed its name to Gerber Scientific, Inc.Gerber holds more than 600 United States and foreign patents. Most of his inventions relate to the machine-tool industry. Gerber died in 1996.
The records document the life and career of H. Joseph Gerber, inventor and president of Gerber Scientific, Inc. Gerber was known for his invention of the variable scale, GERBERcutter S-70, and other automated industrial devices. The records include personal records, correspondence, biographical sketches, photographs, publicity, journals and magazines, clippings, speeches, award information, and one audio recording.
Heinz Joseph Gerber Papers,1924-1997, Archives Center, National Museum of American History