Artifact Details


Robert (Bob) Bemer papers

Catalog Number







Bemer, R. W.


5.42 linear feet in 4 record cartons and 1 manuscript box


The Robert W. Bemer papers consist of materials related to his work on programming standards and languages, the Y2K problem, and his career at companies such as IBM, GE, Lockheed, Honeywell, and Bob Bemer Software. Ranging in date from 1943 to 2001, the collection traces Bemer’s career as well as his personal interest in documenting, sharing, and preserving information about the history of computing.

About half of the collection is made up of Bemer’s personal files, including correspondence, Albion alumni materials, published papers, speeches, and clippings of articles that refer to him or his work. There are also files titled “memoirs,” which are essentially collections of documentation such as correspondence, memos, and clippings that Bemer gathered on computer history topics. Some of these files also contain short “vignettes,” or brief written descriptions of computer history moments, composed by Bemer or his colleagues. This part of the collection also contains printouts from Bemer’s personal website.

A significant portion of the collection pertains to the creation of standards, such as those related to text processing, 7 and 8 bit codes, code extension, and ASCII. This includes memos and technical documentation from ISO, ECMA, and the American National Standards committee. This part of the collection also holds Bemer’s trip reports from his time at GE, which summarized standards meetings for his colleagues.

Another part of the collection documents Bemer’s work on the year 2000 date conversion. It includes information about his software company, Bob Bemer Software, such as proposals for “Universal Time Engine” software as well as its purchase by BigiSoft. Other materials include a binder of publications on time in computing, a patent, and printouts from news websites, Y2K forums, and Gary North’s website.

Other materials of note are from Bemer’s work at Lockheed, particularly on the IBM 650, and at Honeywell, where he worked on the TEX programming language. There is also documentation from a 1988 suit where Bemer served as an expert witness for IBM as well as other miscellaneous technical documentation pertaining to computers and systems Bemer worked on during his career.


Technical Paper or Note; Correspondence


ASCII (Character set); Year 2000 date conversion (Computer systems); Bemer, Bob; European Computer Manufacturers Association; American National Standards Committee on Library and Information Sciences and Related Publishing Practices, Z39

Collection Title

Robert (Bob) Bemer papers

Series Title



Gift of Bettie Bemer

Lot Number