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Finding Aid to the Robert Weitbrecht papers, 1931-1982
BANC MSS 85/67 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Robert Weitbrecht papers
    Date (inclusive): 1931-1982
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 85/67 c
    Creator: Weitbrecht, Robert H.
    Extent: 8 cartons, 2 boxes (10.8 linear feet)
    Repository: The Bancroft Library.
    University of California, Berkeley
    Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
    Phone: (510) 642-6481
    Fax: (510) 642-7589
    Email: bancref@library.berkeley.edu
    URL: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/
    Abstract: 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.
    Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English
    Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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.
    All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from, or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley 94720-6000. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Robert Weitbrecht papers, BANC MSS 85/67 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

    Alternate Forms Available

    There are no alternate forms of this collection.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog
    Weitbrecht, Robert, 1920-1983--Archives
    Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf
    Applied Communications Corporation.
    Lawrence Radiation Laboratory
    Lick Observatory.
    R.H. Weitbrecht Company
    Stanford Research Institute
    United States--Naval Air Missle Test Center, Point Mugu, California.
    Weitbrecht Communications
    Yerkes Observatory
    Amateur radio stations--United States
    Assistive listening systems--United States
    Hearing impaired--History--Sources
    Radioteletype--United States
    Self-help devices for people with disabilities--Research--United States
    Telecommunications devices for the deaf--United States

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The Robert Weitbrecht papers were given to the Bancroft Library by Mr. Norman Davis in 1985. Additions were made in 1986.


    No additions are expected.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Lara Michels in 2012.

    Biography/Organization History

    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.

    Scope and Content Note

    Collection consists of 5 series: Business and Professional Correspondence, Subject Files, Personal Papers and Correspondence, Publications and Manuals, and Patent Files. The business and professional correspondence is mostly Weitbrecht's work-related correspondence dating from the founding of his company, the R.H. Weitbrecht Company, in the middle of the 1960s to circa 1982. The subject files date from 1953 to 1982 and include files on topics relating to Weitbrecht's research and his personal interests. The personal papers and correspondence consist of a small amount of personal correspondence as well as an autobiographical sketch, some writings, drawings, and school work. The publications and manuals include technical manuals and bulletins. The patent files consist of files of patent documents and correspondence relating to Weitbrecht's inventions.