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Gerber Engraving

Gerber Scientific, Inc.

83 Gerber Road West
South Windsor, CT 06074

Heinz Joseph Gerber (1924 -1996)

Born in Austria in 1924, H. Joseph Gerber showed an early fascination with technology. By the age of eight, he was building radios and circuit breakers.  Seven years later, along with many others affected by the Nazi occupation, he was imprisoned in a labor camp, and in 1940, he and his mother fled war-torn Austria, immigrating to the United States.  After completing high school in just two years, he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on scholarship, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1946.

In his junior year at RPI, Gerber's life would change forever with the invention of the Gerber Variable Scale®, a new method of scaling  distances between points.  With the Variable Scale as his first manufactured product and a $3,000 investment, The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company was born.

In the early days of the company, Gerber invented a variety of manual graphical numerical data reduction systems as well as devised, patented, and co-patented the first digital drafting machine, computer-aided photoplotting system for printed circuit boards, in addition to various robotic cutting and computer-controlled sewing systems. These inventions marked the beginning of a revolution in automated manufacturing processes that stands as Gerber's hallmark.

In the next 50 years, Gerber was the driving force behind the evolution, diversification, and global expansion of Gerber Scientific, Inc., renamed to reflect the company's growth. Gerber has been personally awarded more than 677 U.S. and foreign patents and received numerous honors for his contributions to science and engineering.

H. Joseph Gerber died in August 1996, leaving behind a legacy of innovation that resonates in the company's halls today.

In 1945 Gerber launched The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company to market this device.


The name Gerber Scientific has been synonymous with technological innovation for more than half a century, helping to transform the way dozens of industries work through the development of products and systems that automate workflow procedures. The company’s long-standing vision can be traced directly to its founder, H. Joseph Gerber, and his life-long passion for leveraging technology to solve problems.

Gerber's genius came to light in the 1940s when as an aeronautical engineering student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he discovered a way to reduce the time-consuming nature of plotting points for his math homework. The result was an "expandable ruler" created from the elastic waistband of his pajama bottoms. Gerber's creation was not only a sensation on campus; it gave birth to the renowned Gerber Variable Scale® and later, The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company.

In the decades that followed, the Variable Scale, which is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institute, would give way to hundreds of other innovative products.

The new millenium has brought new change to Gerber. Today, under the leadership of President and Chief Executive Officer Marc T. Giles, Gerber Scientific is repositioning itself in both its traditional markets and new ones, taking advantage of the changing world economy by identifying new business opportunities to ensure it continues its legacy of technological innovation.

1940s. Gerber is born

The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company was incorporated in 1948 following Gerbers invention of the Gerber Variable Scale.

1950s. Gerber plants roots and builds a strong reputation

The Gerber Variable Scale was refined, and several ingenious new data reduction devices including the Gerber Graph Analogue, Derivimeter, Equameter, S-10 Scanner Analog Data Reduction System and Digital Data Reduction System, enhanced the company's growing product portfolio.
By the late 1950s, Gerber was a respected manufacturer of precise, efficient graphics conversion systems used in both military and commercial applications.

1960s.Growth, diversity and global investment at Gerber

In 1961, Gerber completed its first public offering at $7.00 per share.

Many large corporate customers including RCA, Boeing, and IBM discover Gerber in their efforts to relieve work production bottlenecks.

The Gerber photoplotter is born, revolutionizing the production of printed circuit boards as new applications - large area drafting for manufacturing and turnkey pattern generating systems for the apparel and footwear industries - are adopted by customers.

The decade also marked a period of corporate investment in innovative companies including Boston Digital, Applied Programming Technology and Beta Engineering & Development, adding complementary emerging technologies to the product development process.

Extending its reputation in manufacturing automation systems, Gerber Garment Technology was formed, developing the world's first automated cloth cutting machine, dramatically revolutionizing the worldwide apparel industry.

Gerber listed on the American Stock Exchange.
The end of the 1960s marked the start of a global recession, as manufacturing costs rose sharply and purchasing power dropped, and industries began to search for lower cost labor.

1970s.Industrial rebirth: The decade of automation

In the 1970s, the recession was countered by an industrial rebirth through automation. During the decade, Gerber flourished as it redefined archaic automation processes and expanded its patent portfolio. New product evolutions included:

  • The GSM-80 numerically-controlled sewing machine which revolutionized the automatic shirt collar sewing process - a practice that had remained virtually unchanged since the introduction of the sewing machine.

  • The Model 1434 Photoplotter, the new tool of choice for TV picture tube manufacturers, making the production of screens beyond the 21-inch threshold feasible.

A family of plot data CAD/CAM and fabric cutting systems that were faster and more accurate.

1980s.Growth, restructuring, and the creation of specialized companies to drive deeper into market segments

In 1980, Gerber moved to the New York Stock Exchange and changed its name to Gerber Scientific, Inc. Gerber formed three new companies to address the distinct needs of the markets it served:

  • Gerber Scientific Instruments Company for precision plotting systems for use in the electronic, printing, aerospace, and automotive industries.

  • Gerber Systems Technology for CAD/CAM software development and manufacturing applications in the footwear industry.

  • Gerber Scientific Products for new business developmen.

Gerber Scientific Products ships the first SignmakerT product suite, the world' first automated lettering system for the sign making industry, a breakthrough technology that propels the company to industry leader status. Gerber Scientific Instruments Company acquires EOCOM and Cambridge Robotics Systems, expanding its suite of laser imaging and automated optical inspection systems for the electronics fabrication and printing industries. Gerber Scientific Products forms Gerber Optical to explore automated ophthalmic lens processing.

1990s.Reflection and business realignment marked by the passing of founder Joseph H. Gerber

The availability of faster cheaper, more powerful computers and proprietary software accelerated product development efforts during the 1990s, in which Gerber added complementary technologies and global distribution capabilities through strategic acquisitions. In 1996, Gerber founder H. Joseph Gerber died, and George Gentile was named Chairman, President and CEO. Michael J. Cheshire was appointed President and COO in 1997, and in 1998, succeeded Mr. Gentile as Chairman and CEO. Markets, product mix, and management strategies were reassessed and realigned to achieve critical mass:

  • Gerber Systems Technology was merged with Gerber Scientific Instrument Company forming Gerber Systems Corporation.

  • Gerber Garment Technology acquired Microdynamics, Niebuhr Maskinfabrik and Cutting Edge Inc., and changed its name to Gerber Technology, expanding its software and spreading and cutting capabilities for apparel and flexible materials design and manufacturing.

  • Gerber Optical split from Gerber Scientific Products in 1990, acquired Coburn Optical Industries, and was reorganized as Gerber Coburn, creating the world's leading producer of ophthalmic lens processing equipment and supplies.

In 1999, Gerber Scientific merged its manufacturing and technological strengths with the marketing and sales capabilities of Spandex PLC of Bristol, England to serve the specialty graphics and sign making markets.

2000s.New millennium brings new change to Gerber

Marc T. Giles, appointed President and CEO in November 2001.

Gerber launches full-scale implementation of its supply chain shared-services initiative, to bring world class operational excellence to the company and better support its continued global growth.

Gerber Technology celebrates 20th anniversary of business in China with the opening of its newest sales and service office in the city of Ningbo, bringing the total number of locations in China to 15.

Gerber Technology does business in over 115 countries globally.

In fiscal year 2003, the Company launches over 30 new products and 42 employees from each of the company’s four subsidiaries are presented with 45 United States patents, in recognition of their accomplishments in innovation. This includes three patents awarded posthumously to H. Joseph Gerber, founder of the company, bringing his total number of patents to over 675.


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Gerber engraving machines, CNC Gerber engraving systems

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A design or text engraved on a material.
Engraving is proces carving of letters or design into materials.

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