Book Review: The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber

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The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber

by David Gerber

Copyright 2015 Yale University Press

Pages: 400 and Index

This is the story of the man who changed our industry.

Everyone in the PCB industry should read this book. All of us who have heard about, talked about, and used “Gerbers” for our entire career should take a moment and thank the man, H. Joseph Gerber, who changed our industry for the better.

This well-researched and masterfully written extensive biography by Gerber’s son, David Gerber, is a must-read for anyone who is interested in someone from another generation who put a proverbial dent in the universe.

The most surprising thing about this book is that it reads like a novel. Gerber lead an exciting and dramatic life, from his escape from the Nazis and his Horatio Alger-style rise from rags to riches in New York, to the his first invention: a measuring device made from the elastic waistband of his pajamas. The book also details the start of his company, Gerber Scientific. Gerber’s story is indeed the stuff of novels and movies!

I think the man’s most striking feature was his generosity. His goal was to invent products that helped people produce their own products—something that those of us in our industry can testify to. And he didn’t just help the PCB industry; he also did the same thing in the clothing and automotive industries, developing tools that not only made making their products much more efficient but improved lives along the way.

And it was never for money. Gerber and his team were always interested in the products first, helping people and improving their lives first, with the consideration that if they did that the money would come.

A businessman who put people ahead of profits—what a novel idea. This was a man who lived a life in full…a man who worked every single day of his life, worked hard to help mankind in any way that he could, using his talents to make the world a better place.

And this is also a story of forgiveness. Despite what his family went through, regardless of all the suffering he experienced in his early life, Gerber always had faith in his fellow man, and always tried to help the world around him with kindness and generosity instead of the bitterness and rancor some might have said he was entitled to feel.

I commend David Gerber for spending the past 15 years of his life working on this project and I thank him for yet another act of kindness from the Gerber family. I feel that my life is a bit richer for knowing exactly who H. Joseph Gerber was and I urge all of you, my fellow PCB and EMS professionals, to pick up and read The Inventor’s Dilemma and enrich your lives as well.

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