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REMEMBERING Edward Leonard Ginzton, Engr. '38, PhD '41, 1915-1998

Father of Invention

Courtesy News Service

HIGH ENERGY: Ginzton, shown here in his lab in 1952, conceived SLAC, co-founded Varian and registered more than 40 patents.

Ed Ginzton brought the Monster to Stanford. From 1957 to 1961, he was the director of Project M, which later became the Stanford linear accelerator. In a recent interview with Stanford, he recalled those heady days. “There was a sense of excitement,” he said, “of promise, and of personal pride in participating in a project of great importance.”

Ginzton, who died August 13 at age 82, devoted his life to such projects. Born in the Ukraine, he immigrated with his family to San Francisco in 1929 at the age of 13. After receiving a degree in electrical engineering from UC-Berkeley in 1936, he got a PhD from Stanford and began teaching. It was at Stanford that he met Russell and Sigurd Varian, inventors of the klystron, a powerful new kind of radio tube. During World War II, Ginzton moved to New York to work on radar.

After the war, he returned to Stanford and in 1948 co-founded Varian Associates with the Varian brothers. Starting with six employees and a $22,000 stake, Varian grew into a billion-dollar high-tech company with products ranging from semiconductors to health-care equipment. Ginzton pioneered the use of high-energy electron accelerator technology for cancer treatment; today Varian’s 3,500 linacs treat more than a million cancer patients a year.

Ginzton was also an active civic leader, working as chair of the National Academy of Sciences committee that advised Congress on the Clean Air Act of 1971. Locally, he co-chaired, with David Packard, the Stanford Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition, which helped launch minority-owned businesses. “Renaissance man is a sometimes overused label, but there’s no better way to describe Ed Ginzton,” says J. Tracy O’Rourke, Varian’s current chairman and chief executive. Ginzton is survived by his wife, Artemas, EdS ’57; two sons, Leonard, ’65, and David; two daughters, Anne Cottrell and Nancy, ’68; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

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