An Early History
In April 20, 1948, the Secretary of State of California affixed
the Great Seal of the State to the Articles of Incorporation of
Varian Associates. The articles were signed by nine persons who
were named as directors of the new corporation; they were: Edward
L. Ginzton, William W. Hansen, Richard M. Leonard, Leonard I. Schiff,
H. Myrl Stearns, Dorothy Varian, Russell H. Varian, Sigurd F. Varian
and Paul B. Hunter.
The articles of incorporation stated in part that the purposes
of the new Company were to "conduct general research in the
fields of physical science of every kind or nature, including...heat,
sound, light, optics, x-rays, charged particles, ionizing radiations,
electricity, magnetism, proper ties of solids, liquids and gases,
vacuum technology and applications thereof, chemistry including
physical chemistry, electro-chemistry and metallurgy, to engage
in the evaporation of substances in an evacuated chamber, to accelerated
charged particles to high kinetic energies, to measure the gyro-magnetic
properties of atoms to measure magnetic fields or for other purposes..."
- that is to say vacuum products, NMR, and EPR spectrometers, linear
accelerators, optical spectrometers, and more.
In support of this ambitious undertaking were $22,000 of capital,
and six full-time employees - the Varian brothers, Dorothy, Myrl
Stearns, Fred Salisbury, and Don Snow. In addition, Edward Ginzton,
Marvin Chodorow, William Hansen, and Leonard Schiff, all of whom
were on the faculty at Stanford, supplied technical and business
assistance. Dick Leonard, a San Francisco attorney, was legal counsel,
while Paul Hunter, a patent attorney, was the protector of ideas.
The articles of incorporation, which ran to 15 pages, described
seven lines of business including the development and manufacture
of:"...evacuated or gas-filled envelopes for, or for use in
the production, generation... of electricity... and of radiation..."
-- in other words, electron tubes.
"...Circuits, and other means of assembling or using any of
the foregoing elements and principles for radio, radar, television..."
– a description of our involvement in three major markets.
The nine directors did not gather together to sign the articles.
Dick Leonard's signature was notarized in San Francisco. Myrl Stearns,
Sig Varian, and Paul Hunter were still in the East, and they signed
in Nassau County, Long Island. They were joined by Ed Ginzton who
was in the New York area on business.
Before Bernice Ewell, Notary Public for the County of Santa Clara,
gathered Russ and Dorothy Varian, Leonard Schiff, and William Hansen.
Assuming that Bernice Ewell had read the document, she must have
thought them somewhat mad.
|The first microwave radar system,
with a klystron acting as the power source.
Nonetheless, today, Varian Associates can look back at its articles
of incorporation and say, in effect, "Sure, that's what we
said we were going to do, and that's about what we did." Lines
of business described in 1948 are major technologies, benefiting
not only Varian, but companies around the world, accounting for
annual sales in the billions of dollars, and jobs counted in the
tens of thousands.The first microwave radar system, with a klystron
acting as the power source.
About 1949, the directors and a few other early employees posed
before the "headquarters" in San Carlos. Some years later,
a senior officer of Varian regarded that photo and asked: "If
that group came to you and asked for financial backing, would you
give them a nickel?"Founders and close associates in San Carlos,
California, left to right: Russ Varian, Sig Varian, Marvin Chodorow,
Dorothy Varian, Dick Leonard, Esther Salisbury, Ed Ginzton, Fred
Salisbury, Don Snow, and Myrl Stearns.
Although it is clear from the articles of incorporation that the
founders planned a diversified enterprise, it was several years
before Varian was essentially anything but a microwave tube plant.
|Founders and close associates
in San Carlos, California, left to right: Russ Varian, Sig Varian,
Marvin Chodorow, Dorothy Varian, Dick Leonard, Esther Salisbury,
Ed Ginzton, Fred Salisbury, Don Snow, and Myrl Stearns.
However, the founders of Varian did not envision a one-product
company, and they had intentionally settled near Stanford in order
to enjoy the benefits of interchange with the various scientific
programs in progress at the University. It happened that the early
years of Varian coincided with an unusually rich period of invention
of Stanford, and the young Company was to be a beneficiary of much
of this productivity.
For example, Felix Bloch, William Hansen, and others had recently
completed pioneering work in nuclear magnetic resonance. Varian
obtained patent rights for NMR - the jumping-off point for Varian's
present position as a leader in analytical instrumentation.
Also at Stanford, Hansen and Ginzton were building the first linear
accelerators for high energy physics research. Today, Varian is
the world leader in the production of linear accelerators.William
Hansen at Stanford with the first linear accelerator.
|William Hansen at Stanford with
the first linear accelerator.
Gradually, facilities were moved from leased quarters in San Carlos
to a quiet corner of Stanford land, thus creating what is today
the Company's headquarters site, and incidentally bringing into
being the Stanford Industrial Park - the most successful complex
of its kind in the world.
Tubes, an expanding instruments line, an embryonic accelerator
activity, and a venture into geophysical instruments marked Varian's
activities as it neared the end of the first decade. In the mid
1950's, "a better mousetrap" was needed in the manufacture
of tubes, and an all-electronic vacuum pump was invented. It was
soon recognized that this device had applications far beyond tube
processing, and another line of business was launched.
It was a San Francisco Peninsula company until the early 1950's.
Then the Canadian government asked Varian to create a local source
for microwave tube production, and Varian Associates of Canada Limited
was established in Georgetown, Ontario.
In 1959, S-F-D Laboratories was launched in Union, New Jersey,
to design and build new classes of magnetrons and others tubes.
And also in 1959, the first acquisition was made. Varian purchased
Bomac Laboratories, a Massachusetts-based maker of tubes and components.
Both S-F-D and Bomac are now Crossed Field & Receiver Protector
Products in Beverly, Massachusetts.
As the Company entered the 1960's, instruments and vacuum products
were becoming major businesses, while a standard line of medical
linear accelerators was developed and aggressively marketed. Research
in solid state devices, new forms of printing, and devices for commercial
communications also accelerated.
Acquisitions played an equally major role in broadening Varian's
product line. The largest of these was the merger of Eitel-McCulough,
Inc., into Varian in 1965. With Eimac came a broad line of specialty
electron tubes, sold primarily to various broadcast and industrial
Four instrument companies joined Varian in the late 1960's - one
in California, one in Australia, and one in Germany. These expanded
our ability to serve the chemist and life scientist with the Aerograph®
line of gas and liquid chromatographs, the Techtron line of atomic
absorption instruments, Cary® spectrophotometers and MAT mass
spectrometers - all famous names in laboratories and clinics about
These are the high points, and it is not our intention to write
a detailed early history. Instead, we would like to talk about a
few significant lines of business which seem to characterize the
kind of company Varian is, and the kinds of people who have made
it that way.
|In 1949, Varian's "headquarters"
building was a leased facility in San Carlos, California. By
the early 1950's, the company had moved to the Stanford Industrial
Park in Palo Alto, California.