The following undated IBM biography includes selected data and general background published in April 1949, shortly after Bryce's death, in the company's external publication, THINK .

James Wares Bryce

When a great man dies,
For years beyond our ken,
The light he leaves behind him lies
Upon the paths of men.
(Longfellow)

Such a person was James Wares Bryce, one of America's most prolific inventors, credited with more than 500 U. S. and foreign patents. His death in 1949 took from the scientific and engineering world a brilliant talent that had poured forth an incessant stream of creative thought for almost half a century. Although he was one of ten men honored as the "greatest living inventors" at the centennial celebration of the U. S. Patent Office in 1936, he shunned the limelight and was little known outside his special field, the invention and design of control mechanisms and computing devices. He made many major contributions to worldwide use of high-speed calculating machines.

Bryce's inventive influence was marked during his lifetime in the application of machines in business, government and pure science. However, it is believed that future generations may benefit even more from Bryce's genius and foresight, for his was a mind which reached continuously to far-distant horizons, seeking new ways to effect computations automatically.

Bryce was a pioneer in the application of electronics to business machines. He foresaw the potentialities of the vacuum tube and strongly encouraged his engineering assistants to explore this new tool. As early as 1932, he initiated development projects relating to methods of employing electronic tubes to perform such functions as photoelectric sensing of punched holes and the reading of magnetic spots in cards.

He was one of the first to recognize the possibilities of increasing the speed of calculating machines, initially by using a network of switching relays to control or replace mechanical adding devices and later by utilizing the infinitely greater speed of electronic circuits to perform arithmetical calculations. The encouragement which Bryce gave to such projects and the many avenues of approach which his fertile mind opened up for his associates culminated, in 1946, in the production of the world's first commercial electronic multiplier, capable of computing a large volume of records at unprecedented speeds. This ability, to foresee certain trends and then start work on machines to meet future business requirements, marked Mr. Bryce throughout his career.


1-3 of 3 pages | Next

->