Stibitz, George R., 1904-1995

Stibitz, George R., 1904-1995



George Robert Stibitz was born on April 30, 1904, in York, Pennsylvania. After graduation from Denison University in Granville, Ohio, with the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy, he attended Union College, where he received a Master of Science degree. He completed his graduate studies at Cornell, receiving a Doctorate of Philosophy in Mathematical Physics in 1930. From 1930 to 1941, Stibitz worked for Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City as a research mathematician. It was there that Stibitz was exposed to all the equipment of the telephone company, that he began experimenting with an automatic calculator, a device which he hoped would replace the tedious manual calculations then performed by many Bell employees. What began as a hobby led to the invention of instruments such as the "Tone Generator," the "Complex Computer," and tan "Electrical Device for Finding Root Polynomials." It was the combination of this avocation with his principal interest, the theory of probability, that was responsible for the birth of the "Complex Computer." This early computer was demonstrated by Dr. Stibitz in 1940, at a Dartmouth College meeting of the American Mathematical Society, an event which introduced the public to the first remote data processing, with a computer located in New York and a user at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. This computer, with its three terminals, provided a crude time-sharing system.

During World War II, Dr. Stibitz left Bell Labs and worked as a technical aide in section 7 of the National Defense Research Committee (NDCR) from 1941 to 1945. During these four years he worked on dynamic testers and was involved in various theoretical studies. The "Stibitz Computer" (installed at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds), the "Ballistic Computer" in 1943 (at Fort Bliss, Texas), and the "Mark 22 Error Computer" (at the Naval Research Laboratories) were completed during this period.

In 1946, Stibitz moved to Burlington, Vermont, where he became a consultant in applied Mathematics to several branches of government, including the Department of Commerce and the Defense Department, and to various industrial concerns, such as the Barber-Coleman Co., Hamilton Propeller of United Aircraft, and Remington Rand. His consulting work led to investigations of the vibration of airplane propellers, the geometry of machine tools, and gunfire control.

As a result of his years of consulting experience Dr. Stibitz eventually became involved in the area of patent expertise, and he ended his long career as a mathematics consultant by working in two major patent litigation cases: Technitrol v. Sperry Rand and Sperry Rand v. Bell Telephone Labs.

In 1964, Denison University awarded Dr. Stibitz an honorary Sc.D. degree, and in 1965, he received the Harry Goode Award of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies for his achievements in computer science.

A strong interest in computer application to the field of biomedical research brought Stibitz to the Dartmouth Medical School in 1964, where he was Professor of Physiology. Stibitz died in 1995.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

George Stibitz papers

Identifier: ML-27
Date(s): 1937 to 1979

George Robert Stibitz (1904-1995), mathematician and computer scientist. The collection consists of reports, memoranda, notes, blueprints, lectures, correspondence and patents related to his work at Bell Laboratories and the invention of a "complex computer," as well as his consulting work for the US Government, Barber-Coleman Co., Hamilton Propeller of United Aircraft, and Remington Rand.