Gerber Variable Scale - History of Gerber Variable Scale

Gerber Variable Scale

Before the invention of the graphing calculator, or even computers in general, scientists needed a clear, quick, and simple solution to understand and solve problems of scale. The invention of the Gerber Variable Scale was just that solution!

By 1942, Joseph Gerber, who had previously escaped Nazi persecution in Austria, was a junior Engineering student at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Getting frustrated with his increasingly difficult and time consuming Engineering homework, Gerber designed the first Gerber Variable Scale with the use of the elastic band from his pajama's.

This scale worked similarly to that of a standard ruler. However, the Gerber Variable Scale contains spring coils, which can be stretched to span any length up to ten inches. This allows for fast calculation of far lengths, or complicated measurements due to the addition of an attached logarithmic scale that uses the short coils lengths to estimate mathematical distances and solutions.

Due to its ease of use and quick solutions to a variety of proportional, or graphical mathematical questions, it was a huge success. By the 1950s, the Gerber Variable Scale was considered the best universally accepted tool for engineers and architects from all over the world.

Eventually, Joseph Gerber went on to develop many other engineering and mathematical tools that shaped the technological advancements of the 20th century. Society rewarded this great inventor by being focus of a 1950s Broadway play titled "Young Man in a Hurry". Winning dozens of awards over the next forty years, Gerber's success was heightened by his crowning achievement earned in 1994, when he was awarded the National Medal of Technology.

Today the Gerber Variable Scale is considered an outdated piece of technology, as computers and calculators can more quickly and accurately solve mathematical problems. However, the invention of the Gerber Variable scale, along with Joseph Gerber's other novel creations, propelled forward the mathematical advancements of the 20th century.

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