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The Inventor's Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber Hardcover – October 27, 2015
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"David Gerber has produced an extraordinary account of a life that combined human drama and courage with a nearly magical knack for invention and business. Gerber’s portrait of his father, Joseph Gerber, is lyrical, engrossing, and crystal-clear in its exposition of often-arcane technological innovation."—Steve Courtney, author of Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend
“If we needed proof that a single creative person is capable of improving the very fabric of human life, this lively portrait of one of the greatest engineers of the 20th century would offer it, incontrovertibly. H. Joseph Gerber pioneered the marriage between computation and manufacturing, transforming so many industries that it is difficult to imagine what the world would look like without him.”—Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
(Shirley Ann Jackson)
"From the horrors of the Holocaust to Ellis Island to the pages of Fortune magazine, Joe Gerber personified the American Dream. He invented the future. His technologies automated many industrial operations and revolutionized manufacturing workflows. These technologies allowed American businesses to compete and prosper around the globe. This book documents how he truly made a difference for his adopted country."—Frank Romano, Professor Emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology
“This book artfully weaves biography, a good story well told, with perceptive insight into the process of invention. A must-read for the history of technology, it explores the complex aspects of personality, skill, and knowledge that align to make a great innovator.”—Peter Liebhold, Chair, Division of Work and Industry, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
"A gripping story of a little-known genius—a real-life MacGyver and Thomas Edison rolled into one. Reminiscent of a Robert Caro biography, this book reveals through vivid detail a fascinating life and an important history: how Joe Gerber, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Austria, reinvented both himself and American manufacturing. From clothes and circuit boards to printing and airplanes, Gerber’s inventions (starting with a variable ruler made from the elastic of his pajamas!) pioneered industrial automation and revolutionized the production of almost every product we use. By showing us Gerber’s systems method of invention and the critical interdependence of manufacturing and innovation, this book is at once an intimate history and a clarion call about our future."—Barry Nalebuff, Milton Steinbach Professor, Yale School of Management, and entrepreneur (cofounder of Honest Tea)
"The Inventor’s Dilemma reveals to the general public the genius of inventor Joseph Gerber, an immigrant to America who created industrial tools and systems that dramatically increased productivity in measurement, plotting, drafting, textiles, and apparel. The book illuminates the inventor’s thought processes. It also tells a compelling story of his harrowing escape from Nazi Vienna as a teenager."—Frederick H. Abernathy, Gordon McKay Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus, Harvard University, and cofounder of [TC]² (Textile/Clothing Technology Corporation)
(Frederick H. Abernathy)
"An excellent addition to history of technology and business collections. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readership levels." — American Library Association
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I was very proud to work for both Gerber Garment Technology, Inc. and its parent Gerber Scientific, Inc. as an art director. It was an energized company, always developing new and amazing technologies because Mr. Gerber, like Steve Jobs, encouraged innovation and creativity. I truly hope Hollywood will turn this inspirational story into a movie.
One story is about personal character. When still a boy, H. Joseph Gerber escaped the Holocaust and arrived in the US with very little, other than his intellect and perseverance. He worked his way through school, developed a start-up, went public, and raised a happy family all on the way to being given the highest national award in technology by the President of the United States. Despite the destruction to his childhood life, family, and friends, he led a positive and constructive life that benefited many.
The second story brings disruptive technology to life. The book follows Gerber’s journey from developing an idea into a mature public holding company while maintaining a culture of innovation. In retrospect, you could derive a “how to” manual that explains how to take an idea to market, iterate on it, create new ideas and markets in an self-sustaining cycle, and help re-build a faltering national economy.
Throughout his career as an inventor, technologist, and businessman, Gerber invented and applied technologies that created new markets in engineering, electronics, printing, apparel, aerospace, and other industries. There are many parallels with what we see today as we experience the next level of automation through artificial intelligence. History repeats itself.
Gerber played an essential role in the transformation of American industry. This is evident in his well-deserved place at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. His story is worth reading
Business Integration Architect
As one can imagine, it may be difficult for a son to be unbiased when discussing his father. Emotions and time can easily cloud the facts. However, David has powered forward and produced a product that reflects his father’s uncompromising standard for quality. Joe Gerber was the consummate inventor and as a result, was required to be an articulate communicator of his new and often highly technical ideas. Ideas that he would have to first be completed, then quantified, prototyped and then sold internally as well as externally. If Joe was first a great inventor, he was second a great communicator. David Gerber has proven himself to have inherited his father tremendous gift for creation and communication. Where Joe’s product was manufacturing systems, David’s is the written word.
This book will appeal to many readers. From those interested in WWII and holocaust history to the great American success story. From those with interest in industry to enthusiasts of automation, anyone who has lived through the booms and busts of the post WWII Technology Age will relate to this extraordinary story. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderfully written biography of a true American hero. You will be inspired.