Varian Semiconductor / Applied Materials and the Gloucester/ Silicon Valley connection

Catherine Ryan submits-

Hi Joey

There’s a long and continuous through-line of innovative and inventive companies and entrepreneurial spirit throughout Gloucester ’s history.

Here’s some background from James Kawski, Market Analyst and CI Manager for Applied Materials Varian Semiconductor, on the Gloucester/Silicon Valley, full-circle high tech connection.

  • Late 1940’s, brothers Russell Harrison and Sigurd Fergus Varian formed Varian Associates in California creating one of the early stalwarts of Silicon Valley. In 1953 they moved their headquarters to Palo Alto .
  • In 1975 Varian Associates purchased Extrion Corporation of Gloucester and Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates was born.
  • 1999 VSEA was spun off in 1999 and established itself as the world leader in the manufacture of Ion Implanters: large, technically complex machines used to make microchips.
  • 2011 Varian entered a new market making tools to build better, more efficient solar cells. In keeping with sustainable business practices Varian built the first power generating wind turbine on Cape Anne (which now forms a trio on our horizon with the two from Gloucester Engineering)
  • Late 2011 Varian merged with Santa Clara California ’s Applied Materials, reconnecting Gloucester ’s high technology history with Silicon Valley .
  • June 2012 Varian’s CEO Gary Dickerson named President of Applied
  • February 2013 Bob Halliday named CFO of Applied Materials


Sigurd Varian


Russell Varian

Photos courtesy Applied Materials © Ansel Adams

7 thoughts on “Varian Semiconductor / Applied Materials and the Gloucester/ Silicon Valley connection

  1. I have the same comment as last week regarding Gary Dickerson. He is not, nor has he ever been the CEO of Applied. He was the CEO of Varian and was made the President of Applied.
    Michael Splinter is the CEO of Applied.


    1. Thanks, Dana!
      yes that 2nd CEO is a typo and should read “Varian’s CEO Gary Dickerson named President of Applied.” Dickerson and Halliday essential corporate governance for both Varian and now Applied…tracing the CA / Gloucester circle, so interesting! Splinter is CEO and Chairman of Board Applied Materials. On structure


  2. Varian does indeed have an interesting history. Although it’s very hard to find, there is a book, “The Inventor and the Pilot” that was written by Dorothy Varian (widow of Russell Varian) in the late 1980’s that provides a wonderful background to the Varian Brothers. I was fortunate to work for Varian before all the corporate take-overs and changes took place; some of the original “Varian Associates” (most notably Ed Ginzton) were still active in the business then. One other interesting note, the two pictures of Russ and Sig Varian that appear in this story were taken by famous photographer Ansel Adams, who was close to the Varian family in Palo Alto.


  3. The true Gloucester connection here would seem to be Extrion Corp. Any background on Extrion? Why did Varian Assoc. move their HQ from Palo Alto to Gloucester?


    1. Extrion started, I believe, in Salem. They needed money to keep going, and Gloucester Engineering, who was then flush with cash from the very successful line of plastic bag manufacturing machines they were making, invested in them, and moved them to Gloucester. At some point, Varian came along and bought the company from Gloucester Engineering. Also around that time, the head scientist at Extrion, Dr. Peter Rose, left Extrion and started NoVa in Beverly, which became Eaton NOVA, Extrion’s chief competitor in the ion implant market.

      Varian never moved their corporate headquarters from Palo Alto. They already had a presence in Massachusetts, with Varian Power Tube (part of Varian Eimac) in Beverly, and also Varian Vacuum in Lexington. It wasn’t until the Ion Implant part of Varian spun off as a separate entity that any form of corporate governance moved to Massachusetts. Much of Varian has now become part of Agilent Technologies.

      Of course, all of this is subject to review by those with more accurate memory banks than mine!


      1. Actually Extrion started in Peabody. I worked for Peter Rose there in 1971 during their humble beginnings before Gloucester Engineering bought them. Dr. Maletskos from Bayview was their radiation officer when they first moved to Gloucester. I was blessed with the opportunity to have been part of the semiconductor business. With my experience and background during my hands on experience at Extrion,

        I left Gloucester and moved to California working for Kevex Corp. in their manufacturing dept., a member of their “Operating Management Group” and started their first quality control department. Glenn T. Seaborg was Chairman of the Board of Directors In the early 80’s I changed jobs and worked for Dr. Peter Swann, founder of Gatan Inc located in Pleasanton California for 14 years as their domestic and international sales & marketing manager.

        I am now retired residing in Oregon.


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