Beck, Francis
1926 - 2015

In the early 1950’s, as RCA was beginning to design color television vacuum tubes Francis X. Beck Jr., a newly graduated engineer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute was hired as an electronics designer that played a key role in the development of test equipment to evaluate early production prototype color television tubes. In his next assignment as a design engineer at RCA, he holds a patent in the design of equipment used to monitor and test the performance of a television transmitter’s broadcast signal.

During the cold war of the 1960’s, he participated in the development and design of hardware devoted to provide monitoring of the operation of a number of large radar systems identified as the “Ballistic Missile Early Warning System” (BMEWS). The subsystem to which he was assigned provided automatic fault and detection capability needed for maintenance of 24 hour readiness should a surprise ballistic missile attack on the United States ever occur.

In 1972, as the UPC (Universal Product Code) was being developed he co-authored the patent design for a supermarket checkout stand with a stationary laser that allowed cashiers to drag groceries past the laser beam and drop them directly into the bag. In the winter of 1973, one of Beck’s prototypical checkout stands was donated to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The ceremony celebrating the bequest was jovial and somewhat informal, with the historic stand serving as an impromptu bar.

In addition to all his work, Francis and his wife Shirley, adopted four of their six children. Three of the children were adopted through “Welcome House”, Pearl S. Buck’s adoption agency. Then in 1978, they helped to establish the “Love the Children” adoption agency where they served on the board until the agency closed earlier this year. Francis also served on the Municipal Authority Board of East Goshen Township for 38 years.

Francis passed away on December 20, 2015 at the age of 89. He is survived by his wife Shirley of 65 years, along with six children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.