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In general, in those early days vacuum

technology was practised by scientists and

engineers who lacked training in the field

and whose main pursuits were research

and technology in other fields. Under such

circumstances, it was not too surprising

that vacuum technology came to be known

as black magic with string, varnish, sealing

wax, and all the rest. It was clear that

professionalism was lacking in the practice

of vacuum science and technology and that

there was a need for professional vacuists

and vacuum societies devoted exclusively

to this field. Because the practice of vacuum

technology encompasses all of the physical

sciences and engineering, there was no

single scientific organisation that fulfilled the

need of the vacuists.

[* See Table I for code giving peoples’ country of origin.]

The French were the first to for-

mally organise a national vacuum

society in 1945 following a sugges-

tion made by F. Holweck (F)* as

early as 1939. They were followed

by the Americans in 1953 and

the Japanese in 1958. By the mid

1960’s numerous countries had

formed independent professional

vacuum societies or national com-

mittees devoted to vacuum within

the hierarchy of their existing

national scientific organisations.

It was natural that, as national

vacuum organisations came into

existence, the leaders of these

groups began to think in broader

terms about international coopera-

tion and exchange of ideas relating

to vacuum. By the mid 1950’s there

was already considerable interac-

tion between the French, Ameri-

cans, West Germans, Japanese,

Spanish, Italians and Belgians. As

early as 1948 Robert Champeix (F),

a member of the French Vacuum

Society, proposed a plan for an

International Vacuum Conference

in 1949 or 1950, but the plan had to

be abandoned because of financial


From left to right: Gary Jones, Walt Haas,

Mike Capano, and John Grant.

Credits to John Grant with