United States. National Bureau of Standards Search this
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Engineering and Industry Search this
5.5 Cubic feet (14 boxes)
The collection documents three major areas of Jacob Rabinow's work in improvement of electronic and other devices: phonograph record players, optical character recognition (reading machines) and automatic self regulation of watches and clocks.
Scope and Contents:
This collection comprises material from three major areas of Jacob Rabinow's work in improvement of electronic and other devices: phonograph record players, optical character recognition (reading machines) and automatic self regulation of watches and clocks. Included are technical descriptions, engineering drawings and sketches, numerous patent applications, patents, photographs of devices and voluminous correspondence, often related to patents and financial claims arising from them. The papers are grouped into the three areas of product innovation in approximate chronological order. In addition to many U.S. patents, Rabinow was granted numerous foreign patents, including British, French, German, Canadian and Japanese which are part of the collection. The patents as early as 1910 1917 were collected and assembled by Rabinow in his search of previous inventors' work.
The papers are arranged into three series.
Series 1, Straight Line Photograph Arm, 1910-1917; 1947-1988
Subseries 1.1, Patents, 1910-1917; 1947-1988
Subseries 1.2, Litigation and Royalties, 1954-1980
Subseries 1.3, Brochures, Publicity, Photo Prints, and Advertisements, 1954-1980
Subseries 1.4, General Correspondence, 1954-1978
Series 2, Reading Machine, 1956-1990
Subseries 2.1, Patents, 1957-1958
Subseries 2.2, Brochures, Publicity, and Photo Prints, 1954-1970
Subseries 2.3, Correspondence, 1956-1960
Subseries 2.4, General Correspondence, 1954-1978
Series 3, Automatic Regulation of Watches and Clocks, 1948-1981
Subseries 3.1, Patents, 1948-1975
Subseries 3.2, Patent Right Litigation and Royalties, 1948-1976
Subseries 3.3, Brochures, Publicity, and Photo prints, 1953-1964
Subseries 3.4, General Correspondence, 1948-1981
Biographical / Historical:
Jacob Rabinow was born Jacob Rabinovich in the Kharkov, Ukraine in 1910 and moved with his family to Siberia in 1917 during the Bolshevik Revolution. In 1919, the Rabinow Family moved to China, where his father died. With his mother and brother, Rabinow then immigrated to the United States in 1921, where his mother established a corset shop in New York City. Rabinow graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor's Degree in Engineering (1933) and a Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering (1934). After graduation in 1934, he worked at diverse jobs until he was hired by the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) and now known as National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST in 1938. At NBS Rabinow calibrated flow meters and then, with the outbreak of World War II, designed proximity fuses for Army bombs and rockets. To calculate the velocity of the falling fuses, he devised an acceleration integrator. He also worked on bombing techniques. Rabinow eventually became Chief of the Electro-Mechanical Ordnance Division at NBS before leaving in 1954 to form his own company, Rabinow Engineering.
At Rabinow Engineering, projects included the development of automatic winding equipment and test equipment for Sprague Electric; design of a letter sorter later built by Burroughs; a digital computer for the U.S. Post Office; and the construction of reading machines for RCA, UNIVAC, and others. When servicing machines began to require too much staff and travel, Rabinow sold his company and became a consultant. In 1964, Rabinow Engineering eventually became part of Control Data Corporation (CDC) where Rabinow was head of the Rabinow Advanced Development Laboratory. In 1968, Rabinow formed RABCO Company to manufacture his straight-line phonographs. RABCO was later acquired by the Harmon-Kardon Corporation. In 1972, Rabinow rejoined NBS where he was Chief Research Engineer. In 1975, he retired, but acted as a consultant.
Rabinow held 230 United States Patents on a wide variety of mechanical, optical and electrical devices. Of note is his magnetic particle clutch (1956) used in tape and disk drives; first automobile clutch to work by magnetic and not electrostatic charge (1956); first phonograph whose cartridge moved along a straight track rather than at the end of a swinging arm (1959); first self-regulating clock (1960); and his best known invention, a Reading Machine (1960). Rabinow was honored for his scientific work with the Naval Ordnance Development Award (1945); the President's Certificate of Merit (1948); the IEEE's Harry Diamond Award (1977); and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) Rabinow died September 11, 1999.
The Division Medicine and Science holds the Rabinow Scanned Comparison Reading Machine (Accession #: 1982.0393.01).
Collection donated by Jacob Rabinow, 1990, Decmeber 17.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.