Clifford Berry

1918 - 1963


The oldest of Fred's and Grace's four children, Clifford Berry was born 19 April 1918.   Clifford grew up on Gladbrook, IA where he helped out in his father's electrical appliance store.  The elder Berry tinkered on several projects with his son, the most notable being the construction of Gladbrook's first radio.  Clifford would go on to build a ham radio when he was only eleven.
Also during that eleventh year, the Berry's moved to Marengo, Iowa, where Fred managed the Marengo office for Iowa Power Company


Clifford was a gifted but somewhat troublesome student who lacked enough challenges in his early schooling.  Fred Berry was shot and killed by a disgruntled former employee.  The Berry family stayed in Marengo until Clifford graduated high school, then they all moved to Ames where Clifford attended Iowa State College.  Berry excelled in his studies at Ames, and graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1939.  One of Berry's professors recommended Berry to John Atanasoff who was looking for an assistant in his project of creating a computer.  

Atanasoff and Berry constructed a working prototype by 1939 which won them a $850 grant from The Iowa State College Research Council to build a fully operational version with the capacity to solve systems of equations. Issues about patents and an need for more funding led the two to write Computing Machines for the Solution of Large Systems of Linear Algebraic Equations which outlined their work.  World War II halted the project, and Atanasoff left Ames to join in the war effort.  Atanasoff charged the university with completing and  patenting the computer.  Berry received his M.S. in Physics in 1941.  In May of 1942 Berry married Martha Jean Reed, who had been Atanasoff's secretary.  Berry left Ames to work at Consolidated Engineering Corporation in 1942 as well.  In 1948, Iowa State granted Berry his Ph.D. in Physics based his dissertation The Effects of Initial Energies on Mass Spectra, which he wrote while also working at Consolidated.  In 1949 Berry  was promoted to Chief Physicist followed in 1952 by a promotion to Assistant Director of Research. 1959 found him serving as Director of Engineering of the Analytical and Control Division and its Technical Director.

In October 1963 Berry left Consolidated for a job at Vacuum-Electronics Corporation.  He moved to Plainview, New York ahead of his family, but died suddenly on October 30, 1963.
During his life Berry had been issued 30 patents.  At the time of his death he had another 13 pending.







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