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Marvin Chodorow, 92; Helped Create Vital Part of Radar, Satellite Communication Gear

October 27, 2005|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer

Marvin Chodorow, a former Stanford University physics professor who helped develop the klystron tube essential to radar and satellite communications systems, has died. He was 92.

Chodorow died Oct. 17 of natural causes at his home on the Palo Alto campus, university officials announced.

"Marvin was the leading figure in transmitting the lore of klystrons from industry to the Stanford community," Wolfgang K.H. "Pief" Panofsky, director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, said in a statement. " ... [H]e deserves most of the credit for the spectacular increase in klystron tube power which was achieved during the 1940s from watts to megawatts."

Chodorow's research focused on the theory and design of microwave and traveling wave tubes. Working with Edward L. Ginzton, he designed and tested the first multimegawatt klystrons for a linear electron accelerator at Stanford between 1947 and 1951.

He built on the work of William W. Hansen, who in the early 1930s sought to use high-frequency waves to accelerate particles to high energy.

In 1937, Sigurd and Russell Varian, working with Hansen, demonstrated the first very-high-frequency source, which they named the klystron.

Chodorow's colleague Ginzton left Stanford in 1961 to head Varian Associates, the Palo Alto company established in 1948 by Hansen, the Varians and others to conduct research and build klystron and other electron tubes. (The company was sold to Communications & Power Industries in 1995.)

Chodorow, who served as an advisor to the company, replaced Ginzton as director of Stanford's Microwave Laboratory, later renamed the Edward L. Ginzton Laboratory.

Chodorow joined the Stanford faculty in 1947, initially teaching physics and doing research, and later added electrical engineering classes. In 1968 he helped establish the applied physics department and served as its first chairman.

At Chodorow's retirement party in 1978, Stanford Vice President and Provost William F. Miller credited him with helping to give Stanford "national and international standing as one of the great universities of the world" after World War II.

Born in Buffalo, N.Y., Chodorow earned a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Buffalo and a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He began his career conducting research at Pennsylvania State College and then teaching physics at the College of the City of New York. From 1943 to 1947, he was senior project engineer at Sperry Gyroscope Co., working with Hansen, the Varians, Ginzton and other future founders of Varian Associates.

In 1964, Chodorow co-wrote with Charles Susskind the textbook "Fundamentals of Microwave Electronics." He held a dozen patents.

Chodorow is survived by his wife of 68 years, the former Leah Ruth Turitz; two daughters, Nancy Chodorow of Cambridge, Mass., and Joan Chodorow of Venice, Calif.; and two grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be sent to Stanford University's Chodorow Fellows Program, in care of Martin W. Shell, vice president for development, Frances Arrillaga Alumni Center, 326 Galvez St., Stanford, CA 94305.

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