Originally posted by zeeblebot
this building has a Varian sign on it. i drive around that loop from time to time, but Google Maps doesn't have street view at that point.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&q=central+expressway+at&sll=37.376929,-121.996892&sspn=0.001439,0.003184&ie=UTF8&t=h&split=1&rq=1&ev=zo&radius=0.1&hq=central+expressway+at&hnear=&ll=37.376874,-121.9 ...[text shortened]... of hits for Varian in Palo Alto. it's a very old company here.
The Varian brothers, Ray and Russell, made scientific waves in 1938 by the development of the klystron high power microwave amplifier tube. At the time, there was a primitive radar being developed in secret in Britain but it was at the low frequency of around 200 Mhz. The limited the return signal to a resolution of maybe 3 or 4 meters, enough to recognize an aircraft but not enough to tell friend from foe by the shape of the return.
Along came the Varian brothers, making that klystron literally in their garage with a 100 dollar grant from Stanford University. So they did that and when it was developed, the Brits were able to remake their nascent radar system into something more like we have today (not exactly but a lot better than the 200 Mhz system they had before because those klystrons operated at a fequency ten times higher).
Now they could get an idea if an incoming plane was friend or foe and the Germans never figured out how the Allies could tell they were making an air raid.
So the Varian brothers got into Klystrons and made a nice sum of money from that venture, then went into mass analysis machines, which was basically an adjustable powerful electromagnet that bent ions flying through the field at different angles based on their AMU.
That turned out to be the heart of the ion implanter developed years later. So it was a natural extension for Varian to buy out Extrion in Gloucester, Ma, at the end of the Rte 128 industrial corridor. They used their mass analysis expertise to make the implanter a fixture in the developing semiconductor industry.
They did not, however, understand the financial picture of the ion implanter very well and one of their team engineers, Pete Rose, (no relation) took a new design for a simpler to maintain implanter, took it to the uppers at Varian and they looked at it and rejected the design.
Well that infuriated Rose, who quit, took his engineering team with him and went to another company (Eaton), who saw an opportunity to cut into Varian's 80% market share in the implanter market and thus the Nova 10-80 was developed, the exact machine Rose had taken the plans to Varian and gotten rejected. Bad news for Varian.
The market share plummeted from 80% in the 1980's to about 30% ten years later. The Nova had proven to be a lot easier to maintain so in the end, Varian sold out the ion implanter division and stuck with what by then was their key business, medical machines like cancer radiation machines and so forth. So the implanter business went back to being Exrion again after 20 years of Varian ownership.
But as a result of the early Klystron years and the later mass analysis years, Varian grew to be a billion dollar company and bought about half of Stanford's property which is why Varian headquarters is there now, the implant business a distant memory.
Why do I know all that crap? I was an ion implant road warrior for 15 years till the bottom dropped out and everyone got canned when they sold out, we had a nice deal going in Allentown Pa, working with AT&T and the likes around here, including RCA operations in Princeton NJ, Bell Labs in New Jersey, which now is a shadow of its former self and clean rooms all across America, including 4 years in Israel where I was the only Varian rep at Intel Jerusalem.
I saw a good fraction of all the cleanrooms in the US so I got to know that business quite well. Anyway, that's my story and I am sticking to it