Manuscripts

MSS 201

Lang, Harry G., 1947-

The Harry G. Lang Collection on Early TTY History, 1947-1999

Gallaudet University Archives



Descriptive Summary

Repository: Gallaudet University Archives
Call No.: MSS 201
Creator: Lang, Harry G., 1947-
Title: The Harry G. Lang Collection on Early TTY History, 1947-1999
Quantity: 5.5 linear feet (11 document cases)
Abstract: Collection of correspondence, news clippings, technical data, and other materials documenting the invention and first 15 years of the phone teletypewriter for the deaf.  
Note: This document last updated March 2015.  
    
Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Collected by Dr. Lang and donated to the Gallaudet University Archives in 2003.  A significant portion of the papers was originally collected by Dr. James C. Marsters.
Processed By: Christopher Shea, March 2015.
Processing Note: Collector requested that files be kept in chronological order.
Conditions on Use and Access:  This collection is open to the public with no restrictions. Photocopies may be made for scholarly research.

Related Material in the Archives:

Images

·    Robert H. Weitbrecht [photograph]. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Portraits


Small Manuscripts

·    Papers, Robert H. Weitbrecht, 1974. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: SMSS

       
Vertical Files

·    H. Latham Breunig. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

·    Lee Brody. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

·    Harry G. Lang. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

·    James C. Marsters. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

·    Andrew Saks. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical

·    Robert H. Weitbrecht. Gallaudet University Archives, call number: Deaf Biographical


Historical Sketch

This collection was assembled by Dr. Harry G. Lang (1947- ), a deaf mathematician, physicist, and biographer, while researching his 2000 book A Phone of Our Own: The Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell. Formerly a professor at NTID, Dr. Lang retired in 2011.

Lang's book tells the story of the original creators of telephone communication for the deaf. The concept originated with Dr. James C. Marsters (1924-2009), a deaf orthodontist who thought that teletype machines could be used by the deaf to communicate. At that time, teletype machines (also known as teletypewriters or TTYs) required a special and expensive dedicated line, making them impractical for individuals.

In 1963, Marsters approached Dr. Robert Weitbrecht (1920-1983), a physicist and ham radio teletype (RTTY) enthusiast, to design an adapter that would allow TTYs to communicate over ordinary phone lines. Using old, discarded TTY machines, Weitbrecht was able to design an "acoustic coupler," later known as a modem, and in 1964 Weitbrecht and Marsters made the first successful long-distance telephone call between deaf people using TTYs.  

Weitbrecht and Marsters joined with deaf engineer Andrew Saks (1917-1989) to create Applied Communications Inc., or APCOM, which marketed Weitbrecht's invention under the name Phonetype. Marsters was the primary booster of the device, traveling the country to promote the Phonetype and assisting deaf clubs and organizations in acquiring old TTY machines to adapt for telephone use.

Other significant figures in Dr. Lang's book and this collection include:

·    Saks' daughter Andrea, who was employed by APCOM and helped promote TTY use in Europe

·    I. Lee Brody (1926-1997), whose companies, Essco and Phone-TTY, were APCOM's main competition through the 1970s

·    H. Latham Breunig (1910-1999), cofounder of TDI (Teletypewriters for the Deaf, Inc.), an organization that distributed TTYs and promoted their use

·    Reed C. Lawlor, APCOM's attorney, who advised Weitbrecht on potential patent infringement claims against Brody

With the help of groups such as TDI and similar local groups promoting the use of TTYs, Weitbrecht's invention helped open a new world of communication to the deaf. This collection covers a period up to early 1980s and the introduction of relay services, which allowed TTY users to communicate with non-users.


Scope and Content

There is a small amount of Dr. Lang's own correspondence included in this collection, mostly correspondence with other researchers, librarians, and archivists on research requests for the book. But the bulk of the material covers the mid-1960s through 1980 and was created by the subjects of Dr. Lang's book, particularly Robert Weitbrecht, James C. Marsters, and Andrew Saks.

Most of the collection consists of business correspondence and printed tapes of TTY conversations. Early TTY machines printed each exchange on a continuous roll of paper; TTYs with electronic display screens were only starting to come into use in the 1980s. There is also a large amount of technical memoranda written by Weitbrecht, which includes information on the use, repair, and upgrading of the TTY machines and the acoustic coupler. In the late 1970s, this also includes information on the Phonetype V, an improved version of the original Phonetype created by Weitbrecht.

Also present is a variety of manuals and training instructions for the old teletype machines that were originally used for TTY calls, dating from the 1940s through early 1960s.

The collection includes a variety of news clippings, mostly articles from mainstream newspapers and magazines on how TTYs opened telephone service for the deaf. There is a small amount of advertising material (e.g. fliers, brochures, catalogs) for APCOM, Essco, and other TTY manufacturers. Also present are some TTY number directories and a limited amount of other materials produced by TDI and other groups founded to promote TTY use in the deaf community.

Of interest is correspondence covering Andrea Saks' work promoting TTY use in Britain in the mid-1970s, including articles and correspondence on the first transatlantic TTY call in 1975. The collection also includes some material on the competition between APCOM and I. Lee Brody's Essco, particularly on Weitbrecht's claims that Essco was infringing his patents for the Phonetype.

Series Descriptions
 
This collection is not arranged by series. The collector requested that the papers be kept in chronological order, and the years can be found as follows. Within each year, the papers are arranged by document type.  
Pre-1964                          Box 1
1964-1966                       Box 1
1967-1968                       Box 2
1969                               Boxes 2-4
1970                               Boxes 4-5
1971                               Boxes 5-6
1972                               Boxes 6-7
1973                               Boxes 7-8
1974                               Boxes 8-9
1975-1976                       Box 9
1977                               Boxes 9-10
1978-1979                       Box 10
1980-1999 and undated    Box 11 

BoxFolderTitleYear(s)
1 1 Manuals for teletype machines 1947-1963
1 2 News clippings 1957-1963
1 3 Correspondence (Marsters) 1964
1 4 News clippings 1964
1 5 Technical information and brochures 1964
1 6 TTY conversations (Marsters, Weitbrecht) 1964
1 7 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Breunig, Andrew Saks) 1965
1 8 News clippings and articles 1965
1 9 TTY conversations (Marsters, Weitbrecht, Breunig) 1965
1 10 Correspondence (Marsters, Weitbrecht, Andrew Saks, Breunig) 1966
1 11 News clippings and releases 1966
1 12 TTY conversations (Marsters, Weitbrecht, Breunig) 1966
1 13 Technical memoranda 1966
2 1 Correspondence (Marsters, Weitbrecht) 1967
2 2 Meeting reports 1967
2 3 News clippings and reports 1967
2 4 Papers 1967
2 5 Technical memoranda 1967
2 6 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Breunig) 1968
2 7 Meeting reports 1968
2 8 Monsanto visit report 1968
2 9 News clippings 1968
2 10 TDI articles of incorporation and bylaws 1968
2 11 TDI directory 1968
2 12 Technical memoranda 1968
2 13 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht) 1968
2 14 Contracts and directories 1969
2 15 Correspondence Jan-May (Weitbrecht, Andrew Saks, Marsters) 1969
3 1 Correspondence Jun-Aug (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Andrew Saks) 1969
3 2 Correspondence Sep-Nov (Weitbrecht, Marsters) 1969
3 3 Correspondence Dec (Weitbrecht) 1969
3 4 Meeting notes 1969
3 5 Mobile showroom trip reports 1969
3 6 News releases and clippings 1969
3 7 Papers and speeches 1969
3 8 Technical memoranda and instructions 1969
4 1 TTY conversations (Brody, Weitbrecht, news bulletins) 1969
4 2 Correspondence Jan-May (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Brody) 1970
4 3 Correspondence Jun-Sep (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Lawlor) 1970
4 4 Correspondence Oct-Dec (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Brody) 1970
4 5 Directories 1970
4 6 Meeting reports 1970
4 7 NECSD annual report 1970
4 8 News clippings and releases 1970
4 9 Technical memoranda 1970
5 1 TTY conversations Jan-Sep (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Breunig, Brody) 1970
5 2 TTY conversations Oct-Dec (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Breunig, Brody) 1970
5 3 TTY conversations, undated (Marsters, Brody) 1970
5 4 Correspondence Jan-Apr (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Lawlor) 1971
5 5 Correspondence May-Aug (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Lawlor, Brody) 1971
5 6 Correspondence Sep-Dec (Weitbrecht, Brody, Lawlor) 1971
5 7 News clippings 1971
6 1 Organization reports and minutes 1971
6 2 Technical memoranda and reports 1971
6 3 Technical memoranda and reports 1971
6 4 TTY conversations (Marsters, Weitbrecht, Brody, Breunig) 1971
6 5 Correspondence Jan-Feb (Marsters, Weitbrecht, Saks) 1972
6 6 Correspondence Mar-Jun (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Brody) 1972
7 1 Correspondence Jul-Dec (Marsters, Andrea Saks, Weitbrecht, Brody) 1972
7 2 News clippings 1972
7 3 Robert Weitbrecht papers and resumes 1972
7 4 TDI and other organization reports 1972
7 5 Technical memoranda and instructions 1972
7 6 TTY conversations (Marsters, Brody, Breunig, Weitbrecht, Saks) 1972
7 7 Correspondence Jan-Mar (Marsters, Andrea Saks, Weitbrecht, Breunig) 1973
7 8 Correspondence Apr-Jul (Marsters, Andrea Saks, Weitbrecht) 1973
8 1 Correspondence Aug-Dec (Andrea Saks, Marsters, Weitbrecht) 1973
8 2 News clippings 1973
8 3 Reports and speeches 1973
8 4 Technical memoranda 1973
8 5 TTY conversations (news bulletins, Marsters, Carmel) 1973
8 6 Correspondence Jan-May (Weitbrecht, Andrea Saks) 1974
8 7 Correspondence Jun-Dec (Weitbrecht, Andrea Saks) 1974
8 8 Essays and reports 1974
9 1 Essco Communications instructions and catalog 1974
9 2 News clippings 1974
9 3 Technical memoranda 1974
9 4 Teletypewriters for the Deaf convention records 1974
9 5 TTY conversations (Brody, Breunig, Marsters) 1974
9 6 TTY directories 1974
9 7 Bylaws for TTY groups 1975
9 8 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Brody, Andrea Saks) 1975
9 9 News clippings and transcripts 1975
9 10 Technical memoranda and notes 1975
9 11 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht, Brody, Andrew Saks) 1975
9 12 Correspondence and diagrams (Weitbrecht) 1976
9 13 News clippings 1976
9 14 Phone-TTY Inc. materials 1976
9 15 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht) 1976
9 16 TTY directories 1976
9 17 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Brody) 1977
9 18 Federal documents on TTY technology 1977
9 19 News clippings 1977
9 20 Partnership dissolution form 1977
9 21 Reports on TTY technology 1977
9 22 TDI personnel manual 1977
10 1 Technical memoranda and correspondence on Phonetype V 1977
10 2 TTY conversations (Marsters, Andrew Saks, Weitbrecht) 1977
10 3 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Marsters) 1978
10 4 News clippings 1978
10 5 Technical memoranda and correspondence 1978
10 6 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht, Andrew Saks, Marsters) 1978
10 7 APCOM information kit 1979
10 8 APCOM financial documents 1979
10 9 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Brody, Marsters) 1979
10 10 News clippings 1979
10 11 Technical memoranda and correspondence 1979
10 12 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht, Marsters, Andrew Saks) 1979
10 13 TTY directory 1979
11 1 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Andrew Saks) 1980
11 2 News clippings 1980
11 3 Technical memoranda and correspondence 1980
11 4 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht) 1980
11 5 News clippings 1981-1989
11 6 News clippings 1981-1993
11 7 Correspondence (Weitbrecht, Lang) 1981-1999
11 8 Correspondence (Lang) 1994-1997
11 9 Exhibit kit for teletype machines Undated
11 10 Manuals and specifications for teletype machines Undated
11 11 Notes Undated
11 12 Phonetype specifications Undated
11 13 Photograph Undated
11 14 Robert Weitbrecht manual for "telegraph system" Undated
11 15 TTY conversations (Weitbrecht, Andrew Saks) Undated
11 16 TTY manufacturer advertising materials Undated