MESA, Arizona -- One of Silicon Valley's early semiconductor pioneers and a co-founder of Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI), William Bell Hugle, died of cancer on Tuesday night at his home in Mesa, Arizona at the age of 76.
Hugle was an entrepreneur in heart and soul. The owner of 30 patents in semiconductor processing started his first company -- a materials research firm -- straight out of the University of Chicago in the late 1940s. Later in the 1950s, he took a job with Westinghouse and moved to California to build and manage its first semiconductor facility. It was there, in the Silicon Valley, that Hugle fell for the adventure of a start-up, and left Westinghouse to co-found Siliconix Inc. Since then, he has never worked for any company except for one of the 12 he has started either alone or with partners.
"Bill loved life. His determination to continue fighting for it and enjoying it every day have been a great inspiration," said Martijn Pierik, a friend of the Hugles and vice president and general manager of Positio Public Relations (formerly Mathews & Clark) which helped Bill and his partners launch and promote many of his start-up companies. "His friendship and generosity have made a deep impact on me and many others and he will be greatly missed as a friend, but more importantly as a husband and father. My sympathy and support go out to his wife Helga and children Margaret, David, Cheryl and Linda."
In 1999, after having started many other companies, Hugle sold Hugle Lithography to Karl Suss, and many people, including his wife Helga, expected that he would then retire at the age of 71. She soon recognized, however, that Bill Hugle couldn't say no to the excitement of a new venture, and it was what clearly motivated him to keep going despite his ongoing medical condition. At first he considered retirement, but that was before he heard about an intriguing new lens-less diffractive optical process.
It was then he said, "I know that conventional refractive lithography technology is reaching its limits, so we simply have to eliminate the lenses. When I heard about this approach, I immediately felt that this might be the answer." Living up to his reputation as "the compulsive entrepreneur," he launched a new venture in 2000, tentatively called Hugle Holithics. Hugle's health, unfortunately, prevented him from completing yet another successful venture.
It was at Hugle Industries, founded in 1966, that Bill Hugle's frustration over the lack of a good showcase for equipment products led him to the concept of SEMICON and inspired him and Fred Kulicke of Kulicke & Soffa to found SEMI.
In the late 1960s, it was custom for those companies serving the chip industry to exhibit in the Wescon Show on the west coast and the IEEE show on the east coast. These shows were all encompassing in that IC devices were shown alongside semiconductor production equipment. Shortly after Hugle Industries was organized and became an exhibitor, it was evident to Hugle that semiconductor production equipment and materials would eventually become the majority of the exhibitors and certainly occupy the most space.
In March 1970 at the IEEE show, representatives of the companies in this field gathered in Hugle's booth to discuss the future. They asked show organizers for a section of the show to be dedicated to semiconductor equipment. This request was denied.
Following the failure of the initial meeting, a second meeting was called in July 1970 to organize a new association. Fifty-five companies attended the meeting. Hugle contacted Fred Kulicke, president of Kulicke & Soffa, about the idea of a new association originally called Semiconductor Equipment and Materials Institute and a show called SEMICON. He gave his enthusiastic support and agreed to chair the first meeting held in Palo Alto, where Hugle was named the first president of SEMI. An important third supporter of the initiative was John Dannelly, co-founder of Thermco.
"As one of the founders of SEMI, Bill helped create an organization that has endured and served the interests of the global industry for more than 30 years," said Stanley Myers, president and chief executive officer of SEMI. "We are grateful for his early contributions to SEMI and we are deeply saddened by his passing."
Today, SEMI is a global industry organization with over 2500 member companies worldwide that develop and provide manufacturing technology and materials to the global semiconductor, flat panel display, MEMS and related microelectronics industries.
William B. Hugle
William Bell Hugle was born on March 30, 1927 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended the University of Chicago, where he earned his BSc. in Chemistry and Physics in 1947. He later earned an MSc. at the University of Cincinnati. His wife, Helga Schuhmacher Hugle and children Margaret, David, Cheryl and Linda survive him.
A celebration of Hugle's life is planned for Sunday, 19 October at 3:30 pm at the Sunnyvale Unitarian Fellowship at 1112 S. Bernardo in Sunnyvale. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Ernest Rosenbaum Cancer Research Fund, Mt. Zion Health Fund, 3330 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94118.
For more information contact Martijn Pierik at Positio Public Relations in the United States at +1 650 815-1006.