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Finding Aid to the Varian Associates Records, 1948-1998
BANC MSS 73/65 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Corporate History
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Varian Associates Records,
    Date: 1948-1998
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 73/65 c
    Creator: Varian Associates
    Extent: Number of containers: 5 cartons and 2 oversize folders Linear feet: 6.35
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Abstract: The Varian Associates Records, 1948-1998, document the history of this innovative and successful Silicon Valley pioneer from its inception in 1948 until just prior to its division into three separate companies in 1999. The bulk of the collection consists of minutes from the meetings of the board of directors. Also included are reports to the board, acquisition and joint venture studies, writings by Russell Varian related to the company, presentations by the board, files on subsidiary companies, company publications, and promotional and marketing materials.
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the appropriate curator or the Head of Public Services for forwarding. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and the copyright.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Varian Associates Records, BANC MSS 73/65 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Varian Associates group portrait from the Varian Associates records, BANC PIC 1988.072-PIC
    Eitel-McCullough records, BANC MSS 77/110 c

    Separated Material

    Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    Audiovisual materials have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The Bancroft Library.
    Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Varian, Russell Harrison, 1898-1959.
    Varian Associates--Archives.
    Electronics--Research--California.
    Radar transmitters.
    Medical instruments and apparatus--Design and construction.
    Linear accelerators.
    Microwave tubes.
    Medical instruments and apparatus industry--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Klystrons.
    Vacuum-tubes. 0 Electronic industries--California--Palo Alto.
    Electronic industries--California--San Francisco Bay Area.
    Santa Clara Valley (Santa Clara County, Calif.).
    Varian, Russell Harrison, 1898-1959.
    History of science and technology collection.

    Administrative Information

    Provenance

    The Varian Associates Records were given to The Bancroft Library by Francis P. Farquhar on October 25, 1972. Additions were made between 1998 and 2006.

    Corporate History

    Varian Associates was formed in San Carlos, California in 1948 by Edward L. Ginzton, William W. Hansen, Richard M. Leonard, Leonard I. Shiff, H. Myrl Stearns, Dorothy Varian, Russell H. Varian, Sigurd F. Varian, and Paul B. Hunter, with $22,000 of capital and six full-time employees. In founding Varian Associates, the directors wanted to create a science-based company, managed by scientists, where the decisions would be made by the scientists and engineers who carried out the work. The founding members had worked together for years, first on the klystron at Stanford University and later at the Sperry Gyroscope Company laboratory in Garden City, NY. during WWII. They chose the name "Varian" as Russell Varian was well known in the scientific community as the inventor of the klystron, a specialized vacuum tube, in 1937. The klystron, with its extremely focused electron beam, was a key element in the development of airborne radar.
    Even though the articles of incorporation stated that the directors wanted to "conduct research in the fields of physical science of every kind and nature," it would be several years before Varian branched out from its original role as a microwave tube plant. One of the company's first departures from tubes came about when they obtained patent rights for NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance), capitalizing on William Hansen's pioneering work in the subject at Stanford. Eventually, this venture into NMR became one of Varian's most profitable ventures, leading to the development of its successful spectrometer and medical instruments divisions.
    In 1953 Varian moved from its original leased facility in San Carlos to a new building on Stanford land, becoming the first corporation in what was to become the Stanford Industrial Park. Soon after the move, Varian began expanding, opening a plant in Canada, launching S-F-D Laboratories in New Jersey, and making its first acquisition, Bomac Laboratories in Massachusetts. Acquisitions continued through the 1960s and 1970s, first under the leadership of Ed Ginzton, then Norman Parker. These acquisitions, together with continued innovative research, helped to further broaden and diversify Varian's product line.
    Varian's profitable klystron contracts with the military were severely cut back in 1964, causing the company to finish out the fiscal year with its largest net losses up until that date. By 1966, however, Varian had restructured its finances and fully recovered, ending the year with record profits. Financial problems sprang up again in 1971, forcing Varian to put an end to acquisitions and begin selling some of its costlier operations, including Varian Data Machines, Syva, and its CT scanning business. The sale of these subsidiaries enabled the company to focus its resources on the core product lines of vacuum technologies, medical equipment, and spectrometers.
    In the 1980s Varian had a succession of four presidents. Then in 1990, J. Tracy O'Rourke came on board as chairman and CEO, the first Varian outsider to hold those posts, and quickly started the company on its long-awaited turnaround, reducing the corporate staff by more than 20% and creating 3 divisions based upon marketing similarities instead of technological similarities. Within five years, earnings rose and profits were at an all-time high. With this reorganization came a shift in priorities, from number of patents obtained and papers published, to marketing and customer service.
    Varian Associates formally divided into three companies in 1999, turning each of its divisions into a separate public enterprise. The three resulting corporations were Varian Medical Systems, Varian, Inc., and Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates, Inc.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Varian Associates Records, 1948-1998, document the corporate history of this innovative and successful Silicon Valley pioneer from its inception in 1948 until just prior to its division into three separate companies in 1999. The bulk of the collection consists of minutes from the meetings of the board of directors. Also included are reports to the board, acquisition and joint venture studies, writings by Russell Varian related to the company, presentations by the board, files on subsidiary companies, company publications, and promotional and marketing materials.
    The board of director's minutes date primarily from Varian's first 23 years (1948-1971). They also include minutes from meetings of shareholders and committees as well as monthly progress reports from subdivisions, strategic planning documents, and some budget reports. Photographs of the board of directors have been removed from these files and transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    Management materials also include legal papers, acquisition and joint venture studies, reports to the board, presentations by the board, as well as materials relating to Russell Varian, stockholders, and employees. Reports to the board include budget reports, financial performance reports, a corporate long-range plan, a management compensation plan, marketing outlooks, and a study of prospective expansion sites in the Bay Area. The joint venture studies document Varian's rapid growth and expansion in the 1960s. Of note among them are studies of Decision Control, Inc., the Syntex/Varian joint venture Syva, and Wilkins Instrument and Research, Inc. The presentations primarily address Varian's restructuring efforts of the 1980s and 1990s. Russell Varian's writings consist mainly of editorials he wrote for Varian Associates Magazine and other publications near the end of his life. Prospecti, semi-annual and quarterly reports covering the years 1955-1990 constitute the documents related to stockholders. Minutes of the meetings of stockholders have been integrated into the minutes of the board of directors. Material related to Varian employees includes guidebooks dealing with corporate identity and employee behavior, as well as group insurance and stock purchasing and numerous employee newsletters.
    Information on Varian's subsidiary companies consists primarily of catalogs, promotional material and information booklets. Most of the significant companies formed by acquisitions and mergers are included here, notable among them are Bomac Laboratories, Semicon Associates, Varian Aerograph, Eitel-McCullough and Cary Instruments. Some material relating to research and development is included in the collection, namely research reports and pamphlets on NMR-EPR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Electron Paramagnetic Resonance) and rare earth cobalt magnets.
    The collection does not include Russell and Sigurd Varian's personal papers or their laboratory materials.