Thanks to the family of Frances Hugle for the following information.
Frances Hugle was born Frances Betty Sarnat 13 August, 1927 in New York to Nathan and Lilyan (Steinfeld) Sarnatzky, both immigrants. She lived in Chicago until starting her first business with her husband, William Bell Hugle, in 1948.
Fran attended Hyde Park High School (where she and Bill met), being the first girl to win the Wilson Jr. College Math Tournament at age 16 in 1944.
She graduated that year and entered the University of Chicago, where she earned her Ph. B. in two years. She then entered the UC Medical School but left medical school in 1947. In 1948, they founded their first company together, Hyco-Ames, and the couple set it up at her parents’ apartment. Hyco-Ames focused on developing gem-quality star sapphires and rubies. Though Hyco-Ames never produced the gems (they were focused on securing funding and developing the equipment they needed), Fran designed and built a completely automatic Verneuil furnace, six cubic feet large, that could reach the necessary temperature of 3600 degrees.
Later in 1948, they secured financial support from New York attorney John G. Broady and Hyco-Ames became Stuart Laboratories. The company first operated out of Broady’s high-rise office building in lower Manhattan but later moved to North Bergen, New Jersey into a proper factory space. During the early years, Fran continued to design and build the crystallography equipment she needed but did not pursue patents on any of it. She was 21 years old and apparently still rather naive about such things. The company did succeed in creating the first gem-quality (translucent) star sapphires/rubies in November of 1949 and began selling the stones. However, in March of 1950, Linde (Union Carbide) filed a patent infringement suit against Stuart Laboratories and Bill Hugle and succeeded in shutting down production. The company folded in 1951 after the courts ruled for Linde.
Linde went into production of its own star sapphires and rubies shortly thereafter, but all of their stones were opaque, having never achieved the translucence of Fran’s stones.
From 1951 until 1953, the Hugles founded additional companies with contracts to grow crystals for the nascent electronics industry. Then in 1953, they were both hired by Baldwin Piano Company of Cincinnati. Baldwin at that time was expanding into the electronics business, initially to develop an electronic musical instrument, but later for broader purposes. Fran was Advanced Research Engineer at Baldwin and Bill her supervisor. While at Baldwin, she wanted to learn the business thoroughly and insisted upon building a piano herself from the bottom up. That piano was in our home and all four of her children learned to play on it.
At Baldwin, Fran and Bill became prolific inventors, filing numerous patent applications, some of which Baldwin formally filed and others that languished in Baldwin’s engineering division. Among those were patents filed in 1956 and 1957 for methods of producing semi-conductive films and printed circuits.
(See list below of patent applications.)
The Hugles remained a team throughout Fran’s life, always working together at their various endeavors, though they encountered numerous barriers in their early career to finding companies willing to hire a husband-wife team. Bill was both an inventor and an entrepreneur, while Fran preferred the engineering milieu to the business one. Still, she was not welcomed by many male engineers who resented having a woman supervisor or sometimes even a woman for a peer. Fran often said, “I am a woman and an engineer; I am not a woman engineer.” She rebelled against the idea that gender described the type of engineer she was.
The Hugles worked for other electronics companies after Baldwin, including establishing Westinghouse’s digital circuit plant in Pennsylvania in 1958, but moved to Santa Clara, California in 1961. There they founded numerous innovative electronics companies, all based on equipment and manufacturing processes they developed. One of the first (and the only one that survives under the same name today) was Siliconix. The other significant and highly successful company was Hugle Industries, which manufactured epitaxial reactors and wire bonders, for the industry in the 1960s. Bill was the President and Fran the research director. Though Hugle Industries was later bought out and absorbed by a larger company, one of its spinoffs, Hugle Electronics of Tokyo, is still in business.
The Hugles are considered important pioneers in the development of Silicon Valley. Considered by some her most significant patent, Fran’s 1966 process for Automated Packaging of Semiconductors (granted after her death in 1969) developed TAB (tape-automated bonding) for the first time, allowing the miniaturization we enjoy today in thousands of products from hearing aids to personal computers.
In addition to her technical work, Fran was politically and socially active. She helped found the first Headstart program in the Santa Clara Valley and protested against the Vietnam War, though never crossing the line to civil disobedience as she was a firm believer in the rule of law. She was active in the Unitarian Church and an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Santa Clara.
Fran loved the outdoors, hiking and camping in Yosemite, and surfing in Santa Cruz. She had a sharp wit and could hold her own in any conversation. She also enjoyed experimenting in the kitchen — which she regarded as her home laboratory — much to the chagrin of the children who had to eat her creations.
Fran succumbed to stomach cancer at the age of 40 and died at her home. Her husband Bill went on to found many more electronics and holography businesses both in the US and around the world. He died in 2003.
IEEE has set up a STEM scholarship in her name, the Frances B. Hugle Memorial Scholarship. Any donations can be made through the IEEE website. There is a drop-down menu to select the appropriate scholarship.
Known Patents (and Patent Filings) of Frances Hugle
Note: earliest patents assigned to Baldwin Piano and not clear if Frances alone or joint with William Hugle; some of later patents assigned to Westinghouse or Stewart-Warner.
|Date of Application||Date of Patent||Patent Number||Title|
|1||1955||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Mounting Means for Small Crystals|
|2||1956||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Crystal-Growing Process (Salt Melt)|
|3||1956||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Photoelectric Musical Instrument (Multiple Cells Responsive to Different Ranges)|
|4||29 March, 1956||01 Aug, 1961||2,994,621||Semi-Conductive Films and Methods of Producing Them (w/Wm. Hugle)|
|5||29 March, 1956||28 Dec, 1965||3,226,271||Semi-Conductive Films and Methods of Producing Them (w/Wm. Hugle)|
|6||05 April, 1957||19 Dec, 1961||3,013,956||Methods of Etching Metals in the Platinum Group and Producing Printed Circuits Therefrom (w/ Wm. Hugle)|
|7||1957||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Chemical Deposition Process (Cadmium Selenide)|
|8||1957||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Process for Producing Front-Surface Rhodium Mirrors|
|9||1958||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Method of Cutting Single-Crystal Phosphors (alkali Halides)|
|10||1958||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Method of Improving Time-Constant of Photocells|
|11||1958||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Electropiano (Tone Action Activation by Slow Photocells)|
|12||1958||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Temperature Control for Encoder (Cooling)|
|13||1958||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Photocell Assembly (Silicon, Photovoltaic)|
|14||05 Feb, 1959||08 June, 1965||3,187,414||Method of Producing a Photocell Assembly (w/Wm. Hugle)|
|15||Before 1959||Appl. 633,150||Formation of Semi-Conductive Crystals and Films — have undated application copy|
|16||Before 1959||Appl. 656,915||Capacitors, including Photo-Capacitors, Employing Semi-Conductors|
|17||Before 1959||Appl. 791,400||Photocells and Method of Manufacturing Photocells|
|18||1959||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Photocapacitor Employing Semi-Conductor|
|19||1959||As of 1959 –Unfiled but docketed; have abstract||Wave Form Reproducer (Mirrors Scan)|
|20||25 July, 1961||A Cheap Planar CBTL Block for Low Frequency (<100 KC) Operation|
|21||21 Jan, 1963||12 Jan, 1965||3,165,430||Method of Ultra-fine Semiconductor Manufacture|
|22||08 April, 1963||28 June, 1966||3,258,359||Semiconductor Etch and Oxidation Process|
|23||22 April, 1963||27 June, 1967||3,328,214||Process for Manufacturing Horizontal Transistor Structure|
|24||22 April, 1963||12 April, 1966||3,246,214||Horizontally Aligned Junction Transistor Structure|
|25||30 Sept, 1963||Appl. 312,385||Planar Double-Diffused Transistor Process|
|26||21 Sept, 1964||Have longhand version, letters to/from patent office||Aluminum Ball Bonding|
|27||14 April, 1965||Have application, no filing number||Ultra High Speed Logic Gates in Integrated Form Using Metal-Semiconductor Diodes (w/Jack Bamberg)|
|28||14 April, 1965||Have application, no filing number||Method of Providing Dielectric Insulation for Integrated Circuits (w/Jack Bamberg)|
|29||14 April, 1965||Have application, no filing number||Low Voltage Zener Diodes|
|30||14 April, 1965||Have application, no filing number||A Radiation Resistant Field Effect Transistor|
|31||07 July, 1965||Have application, no filing number||Semiconductor Photo-Latch|
|33||20 June, 1966||02 Sept, 1969||3,465,213||Self-Compensating Structure for Limiting Base Drive Current in Transistors|
|34||22 June, 1966||22 April, 1969||3,440,027||Automated Packaging of Semiconductors (first TAB process)|
|35||10 Oct, 1966||02 Dec, 1969||3,481,801||Isolation Technique for Integrated Circuits|
|36||12 June, 1967||09 Sept, 1969||3,465,874||Carrier for Semiconductor Devices (w/Wm. Perrine)|
|37||15 June, 1967||02 Sept, 1969||3,465,150||Method of Aligning Semiconductors|
|38||19 July, 1967||06 April, 1971||3,574,007||Method of Manufacturing Improved MIS Transistor Arrays|
|39||24 July, 1967||06 April, 1971||3,574,014||Masking Technique for Selective Etching|
|40||13 May, 1968||22 Dec, 1970||3,549,232||Microscopic Alignment Mechanism (filed 11 days before she died)|
|41||04 Sept, 1968||16 Dec, 1969||3,484,621||Sequencing Mechanism Electronic Logic|
|42||c. 1965||Paddle Glove (for surfing) — have undated application copies|
|43||Undated||Integrated Schotky Diode Digital Circuits — have patent disclosure only|