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Finding Aid to the Robert Weitbrecht papers, 1931-1982
BANC MSS 85/67 c  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
The papers of Robert H. Weitbrecht, a physicist and electronic design engineer best known for his invention of TTY, also known as the teletypewriter, TDD, or Telecommunication Device for the Deaf.
Background
Robert H. Weitbrecht was a physicist and electronic design engineer best known for his invention of TTY, also known as the teletypewriter, TDD, or Telecommunication Device for the Deaf. Weitbrecht, born deaf in 1920, became interested in amateur radio as a young man, eventually constructing his own ham radio set at the age of 13. The set allowed him to decipher Morse code messages received by means of amplified ear phones that produced vibrations that enabled him to distinguish the codes. By college, Weitbrecht had become licensed as a ham radio operator by the Federal Communications Commission. He was thought to be the only deaf amateur radio operator in the world in the late 1930s. Weitbrecht attended Santa Ana Junior College from 1938 to 1940 and then enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley. He received his bachelor's degree in Astronomy in 1942. During World War II, Weitbrecht worked at UC Berkeley on Cyclotron Hill at the Radiation Laboratory. After the war, he moved to the U.S. Naval Air Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, California, where he spent four years developing electronic timing systems for the missle range instrumentation. It was during these years that Weitbrecht became acquainted with the Teletype Model 15. In 1950, Weitbrecht obtained his own radio teletypewriter and began experimenting with the machine in his amateur radio pursuits. In 1951, Weitbrecht moved to Wisconsin to work at Yerkes Observatory and, in his spare time, continued to develop electronic equipment for radio teletypewriter communication. While in Wisconsin, Weitbrecht obtained a master's degree from the University of Chicago in Astronomy. In 1957, he moved to Stanford University, where he worked as a physicist at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in Menlo Park. He remained with SRI for eleven years. It was during this time that Weitbrecht designed and built cameras and electronic equipment for the Lick Observatory. In 1964, he met some members of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and, with their encouragement, started determining how to adapt the teletypwriter into an assistive-listening device for the deaf community by figuring out how to make it work on a regular telephone line. In 1964, he developed the acoustic coupler that allowed the teletypewriter to be used with a telephone. This coupler eventually became known as the Weitbrecht’s Modem. Weitbrecht's companies specializing in the distribution of TTYs and other assistive listening devices included the R.H. Weitbrecht Company, Applied Communications Corporation, and Weitbrecht Communications.
Extent
8 cartons, 2 boxes (10.8 linear feet)
Restrictions
Materials in this collection may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of University of California gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Availability
Collection is open for research.