Arnold Spielberg

Arnold Meyer Spielberg (February 6, 1917 – August 25, 2020) was an American electrical engineer instrumental in contributions "to real-time data acquisition and recording that significantly contributed to the definition of modern feedback and control processes".[1] For General Electric[2] he designed, with his colleague Charles Propster, the GE-225 in 1959.[3] He cited the first computer-controlled "point of sale" cash register as his greatest contribution.[4] His children are Steven and Anne Spielberg.

Arnold Spielberg
Arnold Spielberg.jpg
Spielberg in 2014
Arnold Meyer Spielberg

(1917-02-06)February 6, 1917
DiedAugust 25, 2020(2020-08-25) (aged 103)
Alma materUniversity of Cincinnati
Known forGE-200 series
Children4; including Steven and Anne
AwardsComputer Pioneer Award (2006)
Scientific career
FieldsElectrical engineer

Early life and careerEdit

Arnold Spielberg was born in Cincinnati on February 6, 1917.[5] He was of Jewish descent. His mother, Rebecca (née Chechick), was born in Sudylkiv, Ukraine; his father, Samuel, was born in Kamianets-Podilskyi, Ukraine.[6] They later immigrated to the United States, meeting and eventually marrying in Cincinnati.[7]

From the age of nine, Spielberg began building radios. He scrounged parts from garbage cans to assemble his first crystal receiver. "At 15, Arnold became a ham radio operator, building his own transmitter, a skill that proved fortuitous when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1942, one month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and joined the Signal Corps." After training as a radio-gunner for the Air Corps, his skills in the design of new airplane antennas elevated him to the position of Communications Chief of a B-25 Squadron in India.[4] During the Holocaust, Spielberg lost between 16 and 20 relatives.[8]: 21 

Spielberg married concert pianist Leah Posner (1920–2017) in January 1945.[9] After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, he joined RCA's Advanced Development Department in 1949, where he did early work on servo and guidance systems.[5][10]

In 1960, Spielberg traveled to Moscow as part of a delegation of electrical engineers from Phoenix. The trip coincided with an incident that became the subject of his son's 2015 film Bridge of Spies.[11][12] Steven Spielberg described the event his father experienced at the time:

The Russians were putting the pilot Gary Powers' helmet and his flight suit and the remains of the U-2 plane on show for everyone in Russia to see. A military man saw my father's American passport and took him to the head of the queue and repeated really angrily to the crowd, "look what your country is doing to us."[11][13]


When RCA entered the computer field, Spielberg began doing early circuit designs implementing computer logic. Moving into systems design, he was responsible for the design of a tape-to-tape data sorter. He designed and patented the first electronic library system, implemented as an interrogation system for data stored on an array of magnetic tapes. Promoted to Manager of Advanced Product Development, he was given responsibility for development of a "point of sales" system. The system involved a central processing computer called Recorder Central with ten satellites, specially designed point-of-sale units. All data were error-checked by feedback data verification. The system had all the capabilities of today's point-of-sale systems, including price lookup on a large drum storage unit, calculating sales transactions including sales tax and discounts, and credit verification.[1]

In 1957, Spielberg began working for General Electric, where he was instrumental in developing the GE-200 series of computers.[14] The GE-225 was derived from the GE-312 and 412 process-control computers. Spielberg and Charles "Chuck" H. Propster had worked together at RCA on BIZMAC before designing the GE-225,[15] which was introduced in 1960.[9]

Spielberg retired in 1991 but continued consultation work for technology companies. He also worked with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, formerly Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation,[9] an organization founded by his son Steven.[16]

Personal life and deathEdit

Spielberg had four children with his wife Leah: son Steven and daughters Anne, Nancy, and Sue. He also had 14 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.[17] His third wife, Bernice Colner Spielberg, died in 2016.[15] In February 2017, he became a centenarian.[18] Spielberg died from natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, California, on August 25, 2020, at the age of 103.[5][9][19]


  1. ^ a b "Arnold M. Spielberg".
  2. ^ "A Portrait of the GE Computer Department".
  3. ^ "It's BASIC: Arnold Spielberg and the Birth of Personal Computing". Archived from the original on May 3, 2015.
  4. ^ a b "A close encounter with Steven Spielberg's dad – Hollywood". Jewish Journal.
  5. ^ a b c Moreau, Jordan (August 25, 2020). "Arnold Spielberg, Father of Steven Spielberg, Dies at 103". Variety. Retrieved August 25, 2020.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Illingworth, Shaun; Holyoak, Sandra Stewart (May 12, 2006). "Spielberg, Arnold". Rutgers Oral History Archives. Rutgers University. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  8. ^ McBride, Joseph (1997). Steven Spielberg. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-19177-2.
  9. ^ a b c d Barnes, Mike (August 25, 2020). "Arnold Spielberg, Computer Designer and Father of Steven Spielberg, Dies at 103". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  10. ^ Oldfield, Homer R. (1996). King of the Seven Dwarfs: General Electric's Ambiguous Challenge to the Computer Industry. IEEE Computer Society Press. p. 82. ISBN 9780818673832.
  11. ^ a b Keegan, Rebecca (December 3, 2015). "For Steven Spielberg on 'Bridge of Spies,' being boxed in by facts is great for the imagination". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  12. ^ Calia, Michael (October 7, 2015). "Steven Spielberg Remembers the Cold War in 'Bridge of Spies'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  13. ^ Chilton, Martin (August 13, 2015). "Steven Spielberg: Bridge of Spies star Mark Rylance is 'extraordinary'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2016.
  14. ^ "G.E. 200 Series Computers".
  15. ^ a b Dalton, Andrew (August 26, 2020). "Computer pioneer Arnold Spielberg, Steven's dad, dies at 103". Associated Press. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  16. ^ O’ Malley, J. P. (January 28, 2017). "How Steven Spielberg grew a social conscience". The Times of Israel. Jerusalem. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  17. ^ "A close encounter with Steven Spielberg's dad". Jewish Journal. June 13, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2020.
  18. ^ Tomas Kellner (February 5, 2017). "Happy Birthday, Mr. Spielberg: Computer Pioneer Who Helped Design GE's First Computers Turns 100 On Monday". General Electric. Retrieved February 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "Arnold Spielberg, Father of Steven Spielberg, Dead at 103". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved September 8, 2020.