Our History

We’re proud of our pioneering history, helping to advance radiotherapy, radiosurgery, and many other vital cancer-fighting tools. We believe cancer is beatable, and we’re excited to see each new development that proves us right.

Brothers Russell and Sigurd Varian worked to develop a source of strong microwave signals to improve air navigation and warn of potential Nazi bombing raids. On August 30, 1937, they demonstrated their invention: the klystron tube, a high-frequency amplifier for generating microwaves.


Varian Associates is founded by a group of scientists with strong connections to Stanford University, including Russell and Sigurd Varian, William Hansen, Edward Ginzton, and others.

The company incorporates and opens for business with $22,000 of capital and six full-time employees.


Microwave tubes, nuclear induction apparatus and microwave test equipment are the products developed during Varian’s first year. Varian announces its first commercial klystron, the X-13 waveguide output reflex klystron designed for use in laboratories and as local oscillators.


Varian Associates introduces four new klystrons and a nuclear fluxmeter, precursor to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) instruments used in today’s biomedical and industrial research.


Weighing 200-pounds and measuring 4-feet-high, the ultra high-frequency V-42 Klystron is the first of a series of Varian Associates high-power tubes used for radar and communication systems.


The Nobel Vaclon pump is invented, the first electronic device to operate without fluids or moving parts and be resistant to power failures.Being vibration free made it useful for simulating conditions in outer space. This pump was also used in high-energy accelerators for physics research, and in the manufacture of semiconductor components.


A Varian linear accelerator is used for the first time to examine the structural integrity of rocket motors, in a process called non-destructive testing. The first such unit was sold to the U.S. Navy and used to produce high-quality radiographs of the Polaris missile.


The Varian Klystron VA842 is introduced. This multi-cavity liquid-cooled Radar klystron is the largest documented production klystron. It was used in the nation’s ballistic missile early warning system.

On September 14, 1959, Varian Associates is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

1959 Continued

Varian Associates introduces the Clinac 6 medical linear accelerator, the first commercial, fully rotational radiotherapy linac built in the United States. The Clinac 6 could generate sharply defined beams of 6 MV X rays in a gantry that could be rotated 360 degrees around a patient. This machine establishes that linacs can be used to treat cancer.


Varian merges with Eitel-McCullough of San Carlos, a manufacturer of conventional radio tubes and some microwave tubes. “Eimac” had manufacturing operations in Salt Lake City, a site that evolved into what is now the headquarters for Varian’s Imaging Components business.


Varian enters the minicomputer market with Varian Data Machines and for a time runs ahead of Hewlett-Packard and Data General in that business, second only to Digital Equipment Corporation.


Varian debuts the first medical linear accelerator to be economically competitive with cobalt irradiators, the Clinac® 4. This product line enables the company’s medical business to become profitable for the first time.

Varian introduces the Linatron® accelerator, a line of industrial machines that generate high-energy X-rays for non-destructive testing and cargo screening.


Ion pumps, turbo pumps and other Varian technology play a key role in helping astronauts land on moon.


Clinac 18 released, a compact high-energy medical linear accelerator equipped with a "gridded electron gun" that gives unprecedented control of radiation dosages. Also featured a new type of bending magnet to produce higher energy X-ray treatment beams without increasing the size of the machine.


Varian celebrates its 25th anniversary.


Varian develops a high-speed, whole-body CT scanner capable of making x-ray examinations of a cross-section of the head and body in only six seconds, significantly cutting the time required by other scanners. Varian’s CT scanner business is ultimately sold to General Electric.


Varian wins an Emmy Award for developing a TV transmitter tube to reduce UHF TV stations' energy consumption. The company also sets up a division to make ultrasound equipment. This division is later sold to Diasonics.


The Clinac 2500 is introduced; the first medical linear accelerator able to operate at either of two widely separated energy levels, depending upon the depth of the target tumor.


Varian introduces two new products: the 3190 sputtering system, offering 50% improvement in wafer throughput for semiconductor manufacturers, and the MDP-1000 magnetic disk sputtering system for manufacturing hard disks for computer memories.


Varian’s Dynamic Wedge opens a new era for shaping a medical linear accelerator’s X-ray beams. It offers rudimentary beam shaping by moving a block in the primary collimator—a device in the head of the machine through which the radiation passes.


Varian’s “C” series Clinac machines put treatment X-ray beam generation and delivery fully under computer control for greater automation and treatment precision.


Varian produces its first commercial multileaf collimator (MLC). This is a special beam-shaping device that has 52 computer-controlled metal plates or “leaves” that can be individually adjusted to shape the aperture through which the radiation beam passes. It is wide enough to treat most tumors without repositioning the patient.


Varian introduces its first software for managing and documenting radiotherapy treatment processes. The VARiS™ information system gives hospital administrators complete and current documentation for radiotherapy quality assurance and for billing support.

Varian introduces PortalVision™ portal imaging technology for instantly verifying exact X-ray beam placement in relation to anatomical landmarks.

Russell and Sigurd Varian are both posthumously inducted into the Silicon Valley Engineering Council Hall of Fame.


Varian begins shipping VariSource™ high-dose-rate afterloader, a new computer-controlled system for brachytherapy—a method of treating cancer from the inside. This technology is used to temporarily place tiny radiation sources directly into or near a tumor.


Varian releases a linear accelerator—the Clinac 600SR—dedicated to radiosurgery applications. The first unit is installed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

1994 Continued

Varian announces the 80-leaf multileaf collimator for enhanced beam-shaping precision.


Varian introduces CadPlan® treatment planning software, which makes it possible to use diagnostic images of a tumor and surrounding tissues, and generate computerized instructions for targeting the tumor with high-intensity X-ray beams.


Varian develops the micro-multileaf collimator for stereotactic radiosurgery—a method of delivering high doses of radiation to a small tumor very quickly and precisely. The Exact™ treatment couch is introduced to improve the accuracy of radiation therapy and reduce the time it takes to set patients up for treatment.

The X-ray Products business begins production of PaxScan® flat-panel X-ray image detectors. The first PaxScan products included panels for dual-energy scanning, dental, and veterinary applications.

1996 Continued

The Clinac® EX series of accelerators is introduced with integrated multileaf collimators to enable early forms of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). This new approach to radiotherapy enables doctors to shape and modulate the radiation beam to sculpt it in three dimensions so that it conforms to the shape of the tumor.


Varian purchases GE Medical Systems' radiotherapy service and support operation, which covers an installed base of 400-plus medical linear accelerator systems and 340 treatment planning products at hospitals and clinics worldwide.

1997 Continued

The United States Congressional Record notes the 50th anniversary of the founding of Varian Associates.

Varian introduces the PaxScan VIP-9, the company’s first digital fluoroscopy imager to support both real-time digital fluoroscopy as well as radiography. Fluoroscopy involves taking multiple images in quick succession in order to generate a moving picture. Varian also introduces a PaxScan flat-panel image detector for 3-D dental imaging.


The company introduces its Millennium™ MLC for the highest-resolution beam shaping available, and begins to promote SmartBeam™ IMRT, a refinement of IMRT that involves the use of special software that optimizes a treatment plan based on a physician’s dose prescription along with information about tumor size, shape and location in the body.


The company also introduces the RPM™ (Real-Time Position Management) Respiratory Gating system to enhance accuracy when imaging and treating tumors that move when the patient breathes. The system “gates” or turns on the radiation beam only when a targeted tumor is within a prescribed area.

Varian Associates spins off a semiconductor and a scientific instruments business, and changes its name to Varian Medical Systems.

1999 Continued

Varian’s X-Ray Products division introduces the world’s most powerful CT scanning tube. The Snowbird tube utilizes five patented advancements in tube design to fulfill requirements for rapid, high-resolution imaging by the next generation of half-second, multi-slice CT scanners.

Varian introduces first digital radiography flat-panel X-ray image detector for the veterinary market.

1999 Continued

Varian receives FDA clearance for a major upgrade to the VARiS® information system, which has evolved to become a master database that facilitates the management of all patient data.

Varian’s X-ray Products business develops a unique integral housing design for compact, lightweight, oil-free X-ray tubes for use in both mammography and CT scanning. This business unit also takes over manufacturing operations for the company’s PaxScan® flat-panel X-ray image detectors, moving production to Salt Lake City.


Varian releases Eclipse™ treatment planning software, the first high-performance Windows-based treatment planning system for cancer radiotherapy.


The company adds a Helios™ module to the Eclipse system, for performing millions of calculations to produce an “inverse” radiation treatment plan that starts with the desired result and works backwards to determine how it can best be achieved. Varian also acquires a new line of GammaMed™ afterloaders for delivering high-dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy.


.Varian moves its Security and Industrial Products operations from Palo Alto to Las Vegas, Nevada. This facility is designed for making the high-energy Linatron® X-ray machines used in systems for non-destructive testing and cargo screening.

2002 Continued

Varian introduces Dynamic Targeting™ image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), which is embodied in the company’s On-Board Imager® device for automated, image-guided patient positioning. Varian also unveils the Trilogy™ linear accelerator, the first radiotherapy machine optimized for both conventional and stereotactic approaches to cancer treatment.


The first portable flat-panel detector for security applications is introduced, designed for high-speed imaging in the field, in order to quickly identify the contents of suspicious packages.

2003 Continued

The On-Board Imager® device is updated with new tools for three-dimensional imaging, automated detection of fiducial markers implanted in a tumor, as well as tools for monitoring and compensating for tumor motion during imaging.

Varian also acquires software for managing medical oncology treatments and adds it, as a module, to the VARiS information management system.


The company also introduces the Clinac® iX, an ergonomic and customizable technology platform for treating cancer with IGRT.

Varian introduces two new PaxScan imagers: 1) use in cardiac scanning systems, 2) use in Varian’s own On-Board Imager® device for image-guided radiation therapy. The latter panel is capable of generating a cone-beam CT image—a three-dimensional image offering excellent soft tissue contrast

2004 Continued

Varian creates the ARIA® oncology information system for the paperless and filmless management of patient data and clinical processes in the cancer clinic.

The company’s X-ray Products business delivers the PaxScan 1313 flat-panel X-ray image detector, designed for low-cost, high quality imaging in dental and orthopedic applications as well as semiconductor inspection systems.


Varian introduces the Linatron® K9 accelerator, a new type of X-ray linear accelerator that enables cargo screening systems to automatically alert operators if suspicious materials are detected.K9 makes it possible to use image-analysis software to analyze X-rays and identify the nature of the materials that were scanned.

2005 Continued

Varian introduces the Trilogy Tx™ machine, optimized for image-guided stereotactic radiosurgery.

Varian’s On-Board Imager device for image-guided radiotherapy receives a 2006 R&D 100 Award, recognizing the year's top 100 most innovative products.


Varian completes a 72,000-square-foot addition at its Salt Lake City facility for stepping up production of the company’s PaxScan® flat-panel digital detectors for filmless X-ray imaging, and introduces a new panel for the equine imaging market.

2006 Continued

Varian launches RapidArc® Radiotherapy - the next dimension in speed and precision. RapidArc is a major advance that significantly shortens the duration of IMRT treatments.

Varian completes construction on a manufacturing plant in Beijing, China.


Varian acquires Bio-Imaging Research, a supplier of X-ray imaging products for security and inspection, in order to offer customers more complete solutions for cargo screening, industrial inspection, and non-destructive testing.

Varian also enters the market for proton therapy systems when it acquires ACCEL Instruments, a privately-held supplier of proton therapy systems, and begins working to produce a commercially viable system for intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT). Varian enters the Fortune 1000 and becomes a member of Standard & Poor’s S&P 500 stock index.

2007 Continued

Varian works with BrainLAB to introduce the Novalis Tx™, a radiosurgery platform incorporating leading technology from both companies, including a new HD-120 high-definition multileaf collimator for extremely precise radiosurgical treatments.

Varian's X-ray Products business introduces the first film cassette-sized PaxScan flat panel image detector, and a larger panel optimized for static chest X-rays. These detectors enabled customers to convert film-based imaging systems to digital processes.

2007 Continued

Varian introduces RapidArc volumetric arc therapy system to significantly speed up the delivery of image-guided intensity modulated radiotherapy by delivering the dose in a continuous rotation or rotations of the treatment machine around the patient.


Varian expands the Las Vegas headquarters of the Security and Inspection products group, and adds more manufacturing capacity at the site.

The company introduces the Linatron Mi, paired with a PaxScan digital radiography panel, for materials discrimination in cargo screening systems.

2008 Contined

A new “Smart Segmentation” tool added to Varian’s Eclipse treatment planning software wins an R&D 100 award. This tool is an automatic contouring utility that helps clinicians identify structures within diagnostic images, significantly reducing the amount of time needed to develop a radiotherapy treatment plan.

2008 Continued

Varian introduces its first PaxScan panel specifically designed for interventional angiography procedures, as well as a new, more compact panel for 3-D dental imaging.


Varian introduces the TrueBeam® system for radiotherapy and radiosurgery. Designed to treat moving tumors with unprecedented speed and accuracy, the TrueBeam system incorporates numerous technical innovations that dynamically synchronize imaging, patient positioning, motion management, and treatment delivery.


The company’s Particle Therapy group introduces the ProBeam™ proton therapy system with integrated solutions for imaging, gating, robotic patient positioning, treatment planning and information management.

Varian’s Security and Inspection Products group introduces low dose Linatron machines for portable and mobile cargo inspection.

Varian and Stanford University win $3.6 million five-year NIH/NCI research grant to develop advanced imaging technology.

2010 Continued

The TrueBeam system receives a prestigious R&D 100 Award as well as a Red Dot Product Design award.


Varian launches the Edge™ radiosurgery suite, and becomes the world’s largest oncology software provider with more than 3,300 Eclipse™ and ARIA sites around the world.

The company merges its X-ray Products and Security and Inspection Products groups to create a new segment called the Imaging Components Businesses, offering customers a wide range of products from X-ray tubes and digital detectors to industrial and security solutions.


Varian acquires InfiMed Inc., a supplier of workstations including software for processing diagnostic X-ray images. The combination of Varian and InfiMed products make Varian a one-stop shop for X-ray tubes, flat-panel image detectors, software and workstations.

The first portable, wireless PaxScan radiographic panel is introduced.

2012 Continued

Marking its 65th year, Varian has over 6,200 employees working together toward the goal of helping to save millions of lives around the world every year. The company has expanded globally to over 80 sites on five continents, and holds over 520 active patents worldwide.

Varian releases a new X-ray tube for use in digital mammography systems, as well as a lightweight wireless flat-panel digital X-ray image detector for imaging extremities and for neonatal procedures.


Varian launches a new software initiative focused on using health informatics to create knowledge-driven solutions for the entire oncology continuum from diagnosis through survivorship. A knowledge-based software product, RapidPlan, is introduced to expedite creation of complex IMRT treatment plans while reducing variability in the quality of plans.

Varian begins offering cone-beam CT (3-D) imaging software for use with PaxScan flat-panel X-ray image detectors. This enables equipment manufacturers to quickly develop systems for use in medical, dental, or industrial applications.

2013 Continued

Varian finishes installation of the company’s first complete ProBeam™ system for proton therapy at Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego. Patient treatments commence.

Varian introduces ProBeam Compact single-room proton therapy system.


Varian acquires the assets of Velocity Medical Solutions, LLC, an Atlanta-based developer of specialized software for cancer clinics. The Velocity software platform is designed to enable data-driven clinical decision making.

Varian introduces the company’s first full-field digital flat-panel X-ray image detector for use in mammography systems.

2014 Continued

Varian introduces VitalBeam™ for affordable advanced radiotherapy. The new platform leverages Varian’s best technology, incorporating many innovations developed for the TrueBeam® platform to offer clinics a cost-competitive option for image-guided cancer treatment.


Varian introduced 360 Oncology™ care management platform, the first software system designed to integrate and coordinate key elements of cancer care so patients and their cancer teams can collaborate on achieving the best outcomes.


The first cancer patient was treated using Varian’s HyperArc™ High Definition Radiotherapy (HDRT), a new type of radiosurgery treatment. With HyperArc, clinicians can deliver more compact radiation doses that closely conform to the size, shape, and location of tumors while sparing more surrounding healthy tissue.


Varian introduced the Halcyon™ system, engineered to revolutionize clinical workflow. Halcyon simplifies and enhances virtually every aspect of image-guided volumetric intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). This system is designed to expand the availability of high-quality cancer care globally.

2017 Continued



Locations Worldwide


Locations Worldwide

Years of Innovation


Years of Innovation

Corporate citizenship

We care deeply about the world we live in and work. That fuels our commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Our founders, Russell and Sigurd Varian, we're passionately dedicated to conservation and justice, and we are proud to maintain that tradition to this day.

Being a responsible corporate citizen isn’t a choice—it’s a way of life.

— Dow Wilson, CEO

Executive leadership

Heartfelt ethical leadership drives everything we do. Our executive team is devoted to our mission and ensuring that our employees, customers, and everyone touched by Varian technology are well cared for today and in the future.

Dow Wilson


Human ingenuity is at the core of our mission. We’re looking for bright, caring, inspired people to help power new victories over cancer. Let’s work together to create a world without fear of cancer

Technology alone won’t beat cancer. We need you.