Varian, Russell Harrison

Varian, Russell Harrison
b. 24 April 1898 Washington, DC, USA
d. 28 July 1959 Juneau, Alaska, USA
American physicist who, with his brother Sigurd Varian and others, developed the klystron.
After attending schools in Palo Alto and Halcyon, Russell Varian went to Stanford University, gaining his BA in 1925 and his MA in 1927 despite illness and being dyslexic. His family being in need of financial help, he first worked for six months for Bush Electric in San Francisco and then for an oil company in Texas, returning to San Francisco in 1930 to join Farnsworth's Television Laboratory. After a move to Philadelphia, in 1933 the laboratory closed and Russell tried to take up a PhD course at Stanford but was rejected, so he trained as a teacher. However, although he did some teaching at Stanford it was not to be his career, for in 1935 he joined his brothers Sigurd and Eric in the setting up of a home laboratory.
There, with William Hansen, a former colleague of Russell's at Stanford, they worked on the development of microwave oscillators, based on some of the latter's ideas. By 1937 they had made sufficient progress on an electron velocity-bunching tube, which they called the klystron, to obtain an agreement with the university to provide laboratory facilities in return for a share of any proceeds. By August that year they were able to produce continuous power at a wavelength of 13 cm. Clearly needing greater resources to develop and manufacture the tube, and with a possible war looming, a deal was struck with the Sperry Gyroscope Company to finance the work, which was transferred to the East Coast.
In 1946, after the death of his first wife, Russell returned to Palo Alto, and in 1948 the brothers and Hansen founded Varian Associates to make microwave tubes for transmitters and linear accelerators and nuclear magnetic-resonance detectors. Subsequent research also resulted in the development of a satellite-borne magnetometer for measuring the earth's magnetic field.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
Honorary DSc Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute 1943. Franklin Institute Medal.
1939, with S.F.Varian, "High frequency oscillator and amplifier", Journal of Applied Physics 10:321 (describes the klystron).
Further Reading
J.R.Pierce, 1962, "History of the microwave tube art", Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 979 (provides background to development of the klystron).
D.Varian, 1983, The Inventor and the Pilot (biographies of the brothers).

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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