David Karpeles was born in Santa Barbara, California, on January 26, 1936. His family moved to Duluth, Minnesota in 1942. He began his own business selling flowers and portrait discount coupons, raising over $2000.00 in 2 months, at age 6. He attended Munger and Longfellow Elementary schools, West Jr. High, and Denfeld High School, graduating in 1953.

He entered the University of Minnesota at Duluth as both a mathematics and physics major and was a member of the swimming team. Karpeles established the Darling Observatory Astronomy Group, taking over the local observatory and opening it free to the public. He served as a substitute instructor, at age19, at the University in Duluth and graduated at the end of junior year, cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree, in 1956. He continued in mathematics as a Masters student at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, while serving as a graduate instructor in the department.

Karpeles accepted a research position at Remington Rand Univac in St. Paul and transferred to Remington Rand Univac in San Diego where he served as the training coordinator between the Navy and Univac. He taught in the extension department of the University of California (USC). He completed his Masters in Mathematics in 1962 from San Diego State University.

He moved to Santa Barbara, California as a research analyst for General Electric Tempo division in 1963. He taught mathematics at Santa Barbara City College, began a real estate investment business, and worked toward a Ph.D. at the University of California at Santa Barbara while working at General Electric Tempo. Karpeles completed Ph.D. course-work in 1971, but did not write a thesis. He began collecting historical documents in 1978.

Karpeles met Marsha Mirsky in 1957; they married the following year. Marsha has been active as the Executive Director of the museums plus other positions including:  President of Brandise University National Women's Committee, Santa Barbara chapter; Chairman of the Santa Barbara Jewish Festival; Creator and Publisher of the "Guide to the Jewish Community" for Santa Barbara; Board member of United Cerebral Palsy and Santa Barbara Jewish Women's Federation;  President of PEO, a philanthropic educational organization.

David and Marsha have four married children Mark, Leslie, Cheryl, and Jason, and 9 grandchildren.

While at General Electric, David created the first operating optical character recognition program. The program automatically read the figure amounts on bank-checks and printed that amount magnetically on the margin of the check. He developed an artificial intelligence program allowing personnel to question a computer using unrestricted English language. The program analyzed the syntax of the question, determined the meaning and gave the appropriate answer.

Publications include: (Mathematics) Rapidly Computable Planar Metrics and Approximation and Representation of Line Graphs; (Artificial Intelligence) Pattern Recognition using Multi-variate Normal Characteristics and Autognome CR-2, a versatile new system for the machine recognition of handwritten characters; (Military) Multi-path Analysis for Sonar Echoes; Determination of the Percentage of Radar Beam Filling; and Fireball and Toroid Classification by “Minimization" Methods;  (Housing) Program Lock-in, a method for providing affordable housing; plus over 60 historical monographs relating to the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum holdings.

David Karpeles received an award from California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. for developing a plan for providing affordable housing in California in1981.

David Karpeles is the founder and C.E.O. of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museums located in Santa Barbara, California; Montecito, California; Buffalo, New York; Newburgh, New York; Charleston, South Carolina; Jacksonville, Florida; Tacoma, Washington; and Duluth, Minnesota. The museums are open to both scholars and the general public; all with no charge. Most are open daily, year round.

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