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.
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.
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.