Arnold Spielberg is the son of Rebecca (Chechick) and Samuel Spielberg, who were both born in Ukraine, and immigrated to the United States. They met and married in Cincinnati, where Arnold was born.
From the age of 9, he began building radios. He scrounged parts from garbage cans to assemble a first crystal set. "At 15, Arnold became a ham radio operator, building his own transmitter, a skill that proved fortuitous when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 1942, one month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and joined the Signal Corps." After training as a radio-gunner for the Air Corps his skills in the design of new airplane antennas elevated him to Communications Chief of a B-25 Squadron in India.
Leah Posner, a talented concert pianist, married Spielberg in January 1945. After graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a BS in Electrical Engineering, he joined RCA Advanced Development Department in 1949 where he did early work on servo and guidance systems.
In 1960, Arnold traveled to Moscow as part of a delegation of electrical engineers from Phoenix. The trip coincided with an incident that is the subject of the 2015 Steven Spielberg film Bridge of Spies.
Steven Spielberg describes the event his father experienced at the time:
"The Russians were putting the pilot Gary Powers' helmet and his flight suit and the remains of the U-2 plane on show for everyone in Russia to see. A military man saw my father's American passport and took him to the head of the queue and repeated really angrily to the crowd, 'look what your country is doing to us.'"
Spielberg retired in 1991 but continued consulting for technology companies as well as working with the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, formerly Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, an organization founded by his son, Steven Spielberg.
When RCA entered the computer field Spielberg began doing early circuit designs implementing computer logic. Moving into systems design, he was responsible for the design of a tape-to-tape data sorter. He designed and patented the first electronic library system, implemented as an interrogation system for data stored on an array of magnetic tapes. Promoted to Manager of Advanced Product Development he was given responsibility for development of a "Point of Sales" System. The system involved a central processing computer called Recorder Central with ten satellites, specially designed point of sale units. All data was error checked by feedback data verification. The system had all the capabilities of today's point of sale systems, including price look up on a large drum storage unit, calculating sales transactions including sales tax, discounts, and credit verification.
In 1957, Spielberg began working for General Electric. Here he was instrumental in developing the G.E. 200 series. The GE-225 was derived from the GE-312 and 412 Process control computers. Spielberg and Charles "Chuck" H. Propster had worked together at RCA on BIZMAC before designing the GE-225, introduced in 1960.
Spielberg married Leah Posner (1920–2017) in 1945 and had four children, son Steven Spielberg and daughters Anne Spielberg, Nancy Spielberg and Sue Spielberg. In addition to his four children, Spielberg has fourteen grandchildren and twenty great-grandchildren. He turned 100 in February 2017.