VICI Valco Instruments – 50 years of trace gas analysis


In 1968, at the age of 25, Stan Stearns founded VICI Valco Instruments to fulfill a need within the field of analytical chemistry for a new valve design. Though he had a machine shop make the valves, the Stearns living room was the epicentre of the business.

Stan and his wife Judy built instruments, typed up invoices, packed products, billed and shipped the boxes all from there. He even baked paint onto instruments in their household oven. It was the quintessential American dream start-up.

As the industry developed further and analytical applications required more precision than ever before, the demand for better valves created a demand for better means of valve testing. Stearns had done work with highly sensitive detectors that were challenging to implement during the testing process; from there, an idea to design a detector specifically for the vetting of these valves was born.

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