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Joseph A. Weisbecker papers, 1899-1982, bulk: 1964 - 1982

1899-1982 Majority of material found within 1964 - 1982
 Series
Accession: 2464-09-11.-VII.
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.
View selected items online in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Abstract

Research notes, correspondence, press clippings, prototypes, manuals, publications, and patents document work on computer architecture and programming languages at RCA and Komputer Pastimes.

Photographs and cassette tapes document circuitry, computers and consoles for RCA computers and games created by Weisbecker's company, Komputer Pastimes.

Dates

  • 1899-1982
  • Majority of material found within 1964 - 1982

Biographical Note

Joseph A. Weisbecker was born in New Jersey in 1932. He earned a BS in electrical engineering from Drexel University in 1956. RCA hired Weisbecker in 1953 as a staff engineer at RCA – Camden to work on general computer development and design. In 1967, he was transferred to the David Sarnoff Research Center (DSRC) in Princeton, New Jersey, where he continued to be engaged in computer development, design, and research.

In the early 1970s, Weisbecker invented an 8-bit microcomputer architecture that would serve as the foundation of RCA’s future microprocessor business. This 8-bit microcomputer was released commercially by RCA as COSMAC. Weisbecker was equally versed in programming languages, and over the next decade contributed to the development of RCA’s programmable video game and educational systems: FRED, STUDIO II, STUDIO III, and STUDIO IV, and Microtutor. Additionally, Weisbecker developed supporting hardware such as light guns, card readers, and cassette interfaces. In 1976, Weisbecker developed the COSMAC Elf, a computer meant to be constructed at home, and the COSMAC VIP, a more advanced version of Elf.

In addition to his work at RCA, Weisbecker ran his own business, Komputer Pastimes, which provided another outlet for his creativity. With it, Weisbecker developed simple games based on computer language for children and adults, wrote children’s books, and designed toys and greeting cards. He actively marketed his ideas to toy companies, licensing several of them, including “Fleep House” to Parker Brothers, “Dr. Nim” and “Think-a-dot” to E.S.R., and “Psychedelic No. 9” to Cadaco.

Weisbecker received 26 patents for his original work, authored or co-authored more than 15 articles for both academic journals and popular magazines, and wrote two books published in the popular press: Home Computers Can Make You Rich and Computer Coin Games. Weisbecker received multiple accolades, including the Best Paper Award from IEEE Computer, the David Sarnoff Award for Outstanding Technical Achievement, and two RCA Laboratories Outstanding Achievement Awards. He died in New Jersey in 1990.

Scope and Content

The Joseph A. Weisbecker papers are composed of research notes, correspondence, press clippings, manuals, publications, and patents related to his work at RCA on computer architecture and programming languages, and related to his inventions and entrepreneurialism at his business, Komputer Pastimes.

The photographs and cassette tapes document circuitry, computers and consoles for various RCA computers including the COSMAC and FRED systems. There are also images of various games created by Weisbecker, including Think a Dot, Super Kube, Bits and Spaces, Fleep House, Wall to Wall, Landgrab, Krazy Kards, Bug Plug, Glurk, Compuword & Psychemaze. Also included is one super 8 film that seems to contain home movie footage.

General Physical Description (AVD portion only)

(AVD portion only) 2 sound discs : 8 x 8 in., 33 1/3 rpm. 7 computer punch cards: 3 x 5 in. 1 reel (25 ft.) : super 8mm. 35 computer cassette tapes. 9 photographic print : color ; 8 x 10 in. 11 photographic prints : b&w ; 8 x 10 in. 304 photographic prints : color ; 3 x 5 in. and smaller. 59 photographic prints : b&w ; 3 x 5 in. and smaller. 9 photographic slides : color ; 35 mm.

Arrangement

The Joseph A. Weisbecker papers are organized in four subseries:

A. Komputer Pastimes

B. Publications

C. RCA

D. Family

Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.


Additional Information

Extent

From the Collection: 990 Linear Feet

Additional Description

Access Restrictions

Records subject to 25-year time seal.

Arrangement

The Joseph A. Weisbecker papers are organized in four subseries:

A. Komputer Pastimes

B. Publications

C. RCA

D. Family

Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Provenance

The Joseph A. Weisbecker papers were donated to the David Sarnoff Library in 2002 and 2006 by his daughter, Joyce Weisbecker.

Processing Notes

Processed by Rachael A. Beyer and Andrew Engel, 2013-2014.

Related Names

Creator

Repository Details

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
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Wilmington Delaware 19807 USA
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