How Tektronix Came to Be

It can easily be said that the electronics industry in Oregon was founded around Tektronix. On October 2nd, you will have the exclusive opportunity to take part in OctoberBest 2013 where you can see and touch history at Tektronix, Inc. You will be able to speak with engineers who took part in the development of one the region’s premier pioneering organizations. From modern day technology to the basics of measurement tools, the Tek Vintage Museum will be showcasing equipment from the past 7-8 decades. In order to truly appreciate the evolvement that Tektronix has endured, let us first take a trip back to where it all began.

vollumscopeDuring the late summer of 1945, Jack Murdock, Miles Tippery, Howard Vollum (and later Glenn McDowell) decided to incorporate a company to produce their first oscilloscope, a type of electronic test instrument that allows observation of constantly varying signal voltages. Because WW2 was over and the government had suddenly no need for all available electronic parts, the guys were able to buy “tons” of unwanted parts for only a fraction of their worth. They decided they wanted to form a company and sometime during November or December of that year, Miles Tippery suggested the name “Tekrad” as the subsequent title; however, it appeared that another company had registered a similar name. To avoid confusion, Miles Tippery again suggested the new name Tektronix- and so it began.

 In January of 1946, each of the four founders had to buy 26 shares at $100 to give the company the beginning capital necessary to start up the company. (Jack Murdock´s lawyer Jim Castles completed the initial “paperwork” and organization and consequently received one share for his work)

In February of 1946, Tektronix, Inc. settled in Beaverton, Oregon on Foster Road. Because of his experience in the Signal Corps in WW2, Howard Vollum appreciated the need for a new calibrated and “triggered” time sweep oscilloscope. (In that time, oscilloscopes were only qualitative and very huge, heavy tools). Vollum and the team began work on the first 501. The first number “5” stood for the screen’s diameter, “01” simply stood for the first model. The early 501 contained advanced circuitry but  was too big and heavy on the bench. This innovation was not adequate enough to contend with the “big” competitors like Dumont, RCA, Varian and General Electric. Tek recognized these drawbacks and as the result, Howard Vollum (the “circuitry wizard”) and Milt Bave (the “mechanical genius”) launched the 511 oscilloscope, which was above par and could therefore hold its own against competitors.

These seemingly insignificant strides towards development of technology are what defined Tektronix as a viable source of test and measurement equipment for today’s high-tech market. Despite their modest beginnings, they are now recognized and utilized on a worldwide basis as innovators of monitoring technology.

Thank you to Wikipedia for sourcing of information.