Salisbury At Varo
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1958-1965: Varo, Inc., Garland, Texas, Research and Development
 in Radiation Weapons for U.S. Air Force; Chief Scientist.

In addition, Salisbury developed a system of  obtaining 
light from electrons passed over a grating

Winfield W. Salisbury showing 
microwave output from waveguide.

Winfield W. Salisbury At Varo
Garland Texas



VAROTRON, new device, generates electromagnetic radiation in visible, infrared and ultraviolet region which can be frequency or amplitude modulated, using interaction between electron beam and grating. Uses may include communications and exotic weapons. 

New Radiation Generator Permits 
Electrical Wavelength Selection 

New device which generates electro­
magnetic radiation in the infrared, visi­
ble and ultraviolet region, whose wave­
length can be electrically selected and 
which can be either amplitude or fre­
quency modulated, has been developed 
by Varo, Inc., Garland, Tex. 

The new device, called a "Varotron," 
was described by its inventor, Dr. 
W. W. Salisbury, of Varo, in a report 
delivered at the recent American Opti­
cal Society meeting in Rochester, N. Y. 

The Varotron appears to have appli­
cation to communications and possibly 
exotic weapons, similar to optical 
masers (lasers). Although the tunabil­
ity and modulation capabilities of the 
Varotron may give it advantages over 
the laser for certain uses, the question 
of whether its output radiation is co­
herent like that of the laser is not yet 

Varo says that "experimental tests 
have not been completed to determine 
to what degree the radiation is coher­
ent [but] indications are that the de­
vice may be directly suitable for special 
purpose applications which are feasible 
only with coherent radiation." 

The principles of the Varotron are 
covered by U. S. Patent No. 2,634,372, 
issued to Dr. Salisbury in 1953. The 
new device uses some of the techniques 
employed in the klystron and traveling 
wave tube. 

A high-velocity electron beam, 
formed by conventional techniques, is 
passed directly over a metallic diffrac­
tion grating in a direction parallel to 
its surface and at right angles to the 
engraved lines in the grating. 

The undulations of the grating sur­
face interrupt the electric flux lines 
produced by electrons in the beam at 
an extremely high frequency, producing 
visual radiation at a vertical angle with 
respect to the grating surface. 

Frequency Change 

The wavelength of the radiation de­
pends upon the vertical angle of ob­
servation with respect to the grating 
surface. For instance, the radiation 
wavelength seen at one angle is red, 
at another angle is green, and at still 
another angle is blue. The radiated 
wavelength at any particular angle de­
pends upon the spacing between adja­
cent grooves in the grating and upon 
the velocity of the electron beam. 

This means that from any given ob­
servation angle, it is possible to change 
the frequency (color) of the radiation 
merely by changing the voltage applied 
to the accelerating grid. Frequency 
modulation with a very high modula­
tion index can be obtained by this 

An experimental Varotron using a 
grating with 45,000 lines per in. pro- 
duces visual radition in the funda
mental mode at an observation angle 
of 20 deg. when electrons have energies 
ranging from 65kv. to 155 kv., Dr. . 
Salisbury reported.

Observation from a lower angle of 10 
deg. permitsusing of a lower energy 
electron beam. 

The Varotron is based upon an elec­
trostatic image theory first proposed by 
James C, Maxwell, 19th century Scot­
tish physicist. This theory says that a 
small spherical charge near a metal 
surface will induce a charge of opposite 
sign on the surface which behaves in 
the manner of a visual image with re­
spect to a conventional mirror. The 
height of the actual charge above the 
surface will determine the apparent 
depth of the image charge inside the 
metal surface, 

In the Varotron, as electrons in the 
beam skim along the surface of the 
metallic diffraction grating, each elec­
tron produces an equivalent charge be­
low the grating surface which travels 
along parallel with it. 

Because of the groove undulations in 
the grating, each electron image moves 
toward and then away from its electron 
in the beam in a periodic manner so 
that the two jointly behave like an 
oscillating electric dipole. Such an os­
cillating dipole is an ideal radiator of 
electromagnetic waves at the frequency 
at which the dipoles are oscillating, ac­
cording to Salisbury, 

The radiated frequency as observed in 
the laboratory is subject to a Doppler 
shift due to the motion of the electron 
and its image, 

For this reason, the particular fre­
quency (color) observed depends upon 
the angle of observation as well as the 
line spacing of the grating and the ve­
locity of the electrons, 

Original work on the Varotron was 
carried out using company funds, More 
recently the Air Force Systems Corn­
mand has provided funding. 


its inventor, Dr, W. W. Salisbury, chief 
scientist of Varo, Inc.  





The Hon. Overton Brooks, Chairman 

2 FEBRUARY 1960 





1946 Conceived, developed, and manufactured precision frequency power source which provided means for the later development of inertia guidance systems. 

1952 Conceived the idea of MICROCIRCUITRY which is the reduction of entire electronic circuits to micro­miniature size. Varo coined the word MICROCIRCUITRY.
Pictured at left is a radio transmitter produced by MICROCIRCUITRY and the size relative to a penny. 

1954  Varo was the first in industry to receive government contract on satellites .... a feasibility study on observation and tracking as a part of Project Orbiter. 
Dr. Fred Whipple of Harvard was the principal investigator for Varo. 

1954 Varo designed and manufactured the Electrical Power Units used by AVCO and Lockheed on re-entrance study missiles. 

1955 Varo designed and produced the Ground Power System for calibration of the guidance system of the Atlas Missile. 

1956 Varo designed and produced the Electrical Ground Power Supply for Martin's Titan Missile. 



Vice President-Engineering 
General Manager R & D Division 
Varo Mfg. Co., Inc. 




1957 Varo developed the Power Supply for Convair's first successful Atlas Missile. 

1957 Varo designed and manufactured the D-C Power Supply for Martin's Titan Missile. 

1958 Varo designed and manufactured the precision  timing source used in Van Allen's satellites for radiation study which produced what is now known as the famous Van Allen Belt. 

1958 Designed and produced Varo's Model 6503 and 6505 Frequency Meters which are used for ground checking and firing of Martin's Ti tan Missile , 

1959 Designed and manufactured Varo's Model 4604 Rotary Bower Supply for use on North American's X-15. 

1959 Designed and produced prototypes of Varo's Model 4310 Static Power Supply for Convair's Atlas Missile. 



2 FEBRUARY 1960 


The Hon. Overton Brooks, Chairman 

VARO MFG. CO., INC. Garland, Texas 



Vice President 
Varo Mfg. Co., Inc. 



Technical Director 
Microwave Power Laboratory 

A Division of Varo Mfg. Co., Inc. 

DR. SALISBURY's distinguished career includes the following major achievements. 

• Harvard Radio Laboratories - Group Coordinator and Member 
of Governing Board for High Power Radar Countermeasures. 

• Member of the Ernest Lawrence team at the Radiation Labo­
ratory which developed the cyclotron. 

• M.I.T. Radiation Laboratories early radar developments. 

• Developed the 50,000 watt radar jamming device and super­
vised its installation in England to destroy German radar 
effectiveness during the invasion. 

• Director of Research, Coll ins Radio Company. 

Designed and built 

Argonne 60 inch Cyclotron 
NRL 50 foot Radio Telescope 

• Chief Physicist, Lineary Accelerator Division, Atomic 
Energy Lab., Cal ifornia Research and Development Company. 

60 foot Linear Accelerator, including a 10,000,000 
watt Radio Frequency Power System. 

• Technical Director, Microwave Power Laboratory, Varo Mfg. Co., Inc. 

Project STAR 
Proj ect CARD 

As a member of the following government scientific boards, he has made significant contributions in the microwave field. 

Project TROY 
NAS-ARDC Woods Hole Study Committee  





wpe17.gif (126064 bytes) Letter From Salisbury to Luis Alvarez (click for  full screen)

1. In June, 1958, Dr. W. W. Salisbury of Varo Inc, presented the 
concept of Project Comet to a National Academy of Science Air 
Force Summer Study Group at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The 
group reviewed and recommended its implementation by the Air 

2. On the basis of the merits of the program, and at the request 
of personnel from Special Weapons Directorate, ARDC Headquarters, 
in attendance  at Woods Hole, Varo presented a concept and plan to 
Lt. Gen. S. H. Anderson, CGARDC, and Major Gen. Leighton Davis, 
then Deputy for R&D, in August 1958. 

3. Also in August, 1958, Varo made a presentation to ARPAo ARPA 
indicated a high degree of interest in the program and encouraged 
Varo to present the program formally to the Air Force, stating 
that if the Air Force were interested, ARPA would also like to 
participate, but that ARPA did not have sufficient funds for a 
program of this magnitude by themselves. 

4. Varo submitted an unsolicited proposal on September 22, 1958 to 
ARDC and ARPA. In addition, Varo presented repeated technical 
briefings to ARDC and ARPA personnel and to the technical directors 
of the ARDC centers concerned, reviewing and explaining the concept. 
In discussions with General Anderson and General Davis, and in 

the Varo proposal, a program to conduct theoretical studies and 
experiments to prove, or disprove, the feasibility of the Comet 
concept was advocated using available hardware to insure minimum 
expense and a 'minimum of development. The cost of this program 

was $10,094,810. 

5. Emergency funds were solicited by the Air Force from DOD during the 
Fall of 1958 to carry out the program proposed. The requested funds 
were withheld, based on a decision that more theoretical research 
was necessary to determine whether or not the proposed $10 million 
combined theoretical-experimental program could be justified. 

History of Project Comet 
Page 2 

6. Responsibility for Project Comet was assigned to RADC by ARDC. 

Due to the potential magnitude of the program if the ultimate 
weapon system was proved feasible, RADC split the Varo proposal 
into an experimental program, Project 5562, and a supplementary 
theoretical program, Project 5561. In March of 1959, a $9 million 
five phase contract was awarded to Varo for the experimental facility 
only. Only Phase I ($96,041.05) of the contract was released, due 
to lack of FY59 funds. This release of funds was made to avoid 
delaying the program. Active FY59 contracts in adjacent fields 
were re-oriented to provide theoretical support under 5561. 

7. The necessary funds were included in FY60 budget for continuation 
of Varo's contract (Project 5562) and the theoretical studies (Project 
5561) as recommended by HADC and ARDC, but as a result of a review 
by an Air Force SAB group, funding of the experimental facility 
(Project 5562) was withheld, pending further theoretical study. 

8. In September, 1959, HADC awarded a contract to New York University 
to create a special committee to study the concept and to accumulate 
and analyze technical output of the theoretical programs in process 
for RADC. In addition to the original $96,041.05, Varo's contract 
was further amended to add funds of $83,983.87 to cover interim 
work, awaiting release of Project 5562. Inasmuch as the decision 
was made not to continue Project 5562, no additional funding has 
been given to the original contract. It is understood that, in 
addition to the contract with New York University, 17 contracts with 
other companies were sponsored for theoretical work, and FY60 funds 
of approximately $5t million were committed to the program. 

9. Upon the suspension of Project 5562 and release of Project 5561, 

RADC placed theoretical contracts with 27 different companies. Varo 
was solicited for, and was successful bidder on, one contract to 
review the work of the other contractors and make recommendations for 

History of Project Comet 
Page 3 

for future experimental requirements. This contract amounted 
to $180,024.92. The total amount of approximately $4.2 million 
was allocated in FY6l funds to the research program. 

10. To date, theoretical studies have disclosed nothing to indicate 
that the original Varo concept is technically unsound. On the 
contrary, each of the major points within the concept are slowly 
proving to be correct. The report of the Scientific Committee, 
established by contract with New York University, has concluded 
that supplemental facilities will be required before feasibility 
of the program can be established. Project Comet personnel at 
HADC have proposed that funds be made available for such a supple­
mental facility. 

11. A new Scientific Advisory Board was appointed, and briefing on 
the program was given by RADC in March 1961. This group recommended 
negligible changes in the scope of the program. Hence, it is 
assumed the funding to be allocated in FY62 is relatively unchanged. 

12. Technical analysis of the program has been further complicated 
due to the circumstances involved. For example, three different 
Scientific Advisory Boards have reviewed the program. The Commander 
of ARDC and his Deputy Director for R&D have been changed since 
submission of the original proposal, and the office of the Direc­
torate for Advanced Weapons at RADC was eliminated in the 
reorganization of ARDC. Personnel rotation at RADC, by July of 
this year, will be such that none of the personnel to whom the 
proposal was originally submitted will be directly involved. 

For the past three years studies on the principles of certain exotic 
weapons have been conducted. These weapons are: 

A. Radiation weapons of limited range 

B. Radiation weapons of long range for use against IC~Is. 

The effectiveness of these weapons lies in the fact that they can destroy 
their objective by producing extremely high temperatures on or at the target. 

Typical characteristics include: 

1. They can be focused so that the energy transmitted is concentrated 
on the target. 

2. Their range could be approximately 2 miles with an antenna measuring 
30 feet in diameter. 

Such weapons could be mounted on a truck or other land vehicle, or installed 
on board ship. In addition, devices are under development which, when 
perfected, will reduce the size of the antenna to 30 inches thus permitting 
it to be airborne. 

Limited range radiation weapons can also be extremely effective against 
personnel. Additional capabilities of these are: 

As an anti-aircraft weapon 

The destruction of mine fields 

Illumination of targets by creating a fireball 
As an anti-tank weapon 

Wireless power transmission. 

The feasibility of such weapons can be demonstrated with existing hardware 
and at a cost of approximately $300,000 for each of the above classes. 

A third class of radiation weapon, that for use against ICBMs, could have 
a range as great as 1000 miles. The array transmitting the energy could 
act as its own radar and would be self focusing so as to remain on the target 

- 2 - 

until the target is destroyed. It could handle the problem of decoy 
missiles since it would simply destroy those as well as the ICBMs with 
warheads. It should be noted tha.t absolute discrimination between decoy 
missiles and the true ICBM has not been demonstrated by an anti-missile 
missile system such as the Nike Zeus. 

Admittedly the cost of such a weapon would be high, but once built the 
energy cost per shot would be about $50 and the weapon, unlike the fired 
anti-missile missile, would still be available for further use. 

Since this weapon differs basically from the intermediate range radiation 
weapon only in size and range, it can be used where appropriate for the 
purposes listed under the intermediate range weapons. For example, it is 
the perfect long range anti-aircraft weapon. The anti-ICBM radiation weapon 
is basically defensive and hence could be placed in the territories of our 
allies without adverse political implications. 

Radiation weapons have this outstanding characteristic: the destructive 
energy is transmitted to the target on the line of s ight and with the 
speed of light. Since the radiation travels with the speed of light, it 
has an overwhelming advantage over the anti-missile missile which has merely 
the same speed as the ICBM. 

Although contractors have spent over one-half million dollars of their own 
money working on the principles of these weapons and have made numerous 
presentations to the various services, to date mainly the Air Force has 
shown any interest and that interest is solely in the long range anti-ICBM 
radiation weapon. The Air Force contracts have been confined to purely 
theoretical studies. These studies may take years, whereas it is believed 

that feasibility can be established for the anti-ICBM weapon in a comparatively 
short time with experimental equipment using existing hardware at a minimum 
expense when compared to the anti-missile missile program. 

No service has shown sufficient interest in the lesser weapons as described 
above, although they are unquestionably scientifically sound and comparatively 

- 3 - 

Many civil servants and scientists in the Department of Defense with whom 
radiation weapons have been discussed seem to be greatly concerned about 
advocating a substantial program to develop these weapons. In the minds 
of same, exotic weapons are classified as "science fiction" and the civil 
servants and scientists apparently fear that they may damage their scientific 
reputations by such advocacy. They are afraid they might be wrong and are 
unwilling to take a risk in spite of the almost unlimited potential value 
of such weapons for our national defense. 


Dr. W. W. Salisbury, left, was an American radar expert during World War II and E. W. A. Troost was his German counterpart. The two met by chance this weekend at Varo in Garland where Dr. Salisbury is chief scientist. Mr. Troost is head of advanced development for Telefunken in West Germany. Here Dr. Salisbury points out an oscilloscope trace to Mr. Troost.-Staff Photo.

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