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The University of Iowa Libraries

Special Collections and University Archives

Finding Aid

Papers of T.L. Dimond
MsC 806
Collection Dates: 1950s-1980s

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

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Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.

Acquisition and Processing Information: Donated to the University of Iowa Libraries by Thomas L. Dimond in 1987.

Photographs: Box 1

T. L. Dimond portrait created on a teletype machine

Scope and Contents

Atricles by and about Dimond; a book of his patents, with drawings; photographs; examples of his inventions; other miscellany. Included with this donation were several books that were either incorporated into the book collections or deaccessioned. There is a list of these books in the administrative file.

Biographical Note

Tom Dimond was born on a farm southwest of Britt, Iowa in 1904, and apparently named Leone Thomas Dimond, though he was later known as Thomas L. Dimond. His first four years of schooling were at a county school, known as the Dimond School, after which he moved with his parents into Britt in 1914. During the summer months, he helped out on the farm. He also played clarinet and saxophone with H.D. Green's dance band. He graduated from Britt High School in 1922. After graduating from the University of Iowa with a BE degree in electrical engineering in 1926, he was immediately offered a job with Bell Laboratories, then only a year old. He was shifted from job to job at Bell, which he liked, as it challenged him to learn new systems and stretch his creativity. During World War II, he worked with scanning apparatus and specialized in jamming equipment that blocked radio signals.

While working at Bell Labs he received over forty patents, including one for the "Dimond Ring" a complicated ring-shaped gadget made up of circuits that revolutionized the way telephones work. He also invented the "number reader," a device for transferring handwriting to computers. During his last ten years at Bell Labs he switched to executive positions. He retired from Bell Labs in 1967.  He had married Ruth Clark in 1928, and while still living in New Jersey and using it as their home base, they travelled in the United States, Europe, South America, and Africa before moving to California in 1976, where they took up residence at Leisure World at Laguna Hills, a retirement community. Here he joined an inventors club.

Box Contents List

Box 1


Composition Book of Puzzles


The Inventors' Club of Leisure World - January 1, 1980-1982, 1983

The Inventors' Club of Leisure World Activities

Nuclear Power Plants




Retirement from Bell Telephone Laboratories

Tech Clubs - May 1, 1978 - January 1, 1980

Typed Image of Dimond

Box 2

Card reader

Desk set with teletype, presented by Teletype, to which Dimond had contacts through Bell Labs

Device for attaching numerous photographs, which Dimond named "Snappie." Stored with photographs to demonstrate its use

First Data System Cutover from Dimond invention, in plastic plaque, showing design

Number reader