Thermco Founder Karl Lang Dies at 100
June 25, 2013
Karl Lang, who founded
Thermco Products Corporation in 1962 to manufacture diffusion furnaces for the
burgeoning semiconductor industry, died on April 7, 2013. He was two days past his 100 birthday.
Lang developed his furnace engineering, production and management expertise during a
career spanning more than a quarter century at Lindberg Engineering Corp., a
manufacturer of industrial heat-treating equipment, in Chicago. He moved to
Southern California in the late 1950s, to become the plant manager of
Lindberg’s west coast operations.
In the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, the semiconductor industry was in its infancy,
but it was beginning to show signs of the staggering growth that would furnish
the building blocks for the coming revolution in electronic products. Many new
companies were starting and opening wafer fabs, and they all needed diffusion
furnaces. Lindberg wasn’t interested in the market, despite Lang’s entreaties,
so in 1962, together with John Dannelly, they founded Thermco Products
Corporation in Garden Grove, CA. Dannelly, a former service engineer with Lindberg, had hands-on
equipment knowledge and a friendly personality. He became Thermco’s sales
manager, and Lang, who had experience running a company, handled the business
and manufacturing operation. The company grew, and the business thrived. Lang
said that Motorola was the first major company to commit to Thermco furnaces,
followed by TI, Seimens and SGS.
In 1967 Lang and Dannelly were approached by their
Japanese sales agents - a small rep company named Tokyo Electron Limited –
about forming a joint-venture to build furnaces in Japan. Together they started
TEL-Thermco. It was TEL’s first venture into manufacturing, and it became the prototype
for scores of hugely successful Japanese joint ventures with US companies.
revenue growth during the 1960s attracted the attention of appliance
manufacturer, Sunbeam Corporation, which also had an industrial products
division, and they purchased Thermco in 1968. Lang continued on as general
manager for about ten years.
In 1982 Lang was the recipient of the SEMI Award for outstanding contributions to
the semiconductor industry.
Karl Lang was born in West Bend, Wisconsin in 1913. He studied electrical
engineering at Marquette University in Milwaukee, and after graduation went to
work for Lindberg Engineering. His wife and two of his five children are still
living. He has 15 grandchildren, and 28 grreat-grandchildren. Thermco co-founder, John
Dannelly died in an airplane crash in 1971.
The above obituary is
primarily based on information from two sources:
1. A family obituary that can
be found at http://tinyurl.com/lco5f8b
2. A Semi Oral History interview with Karl Lang and Al Giese conducted in 2006 that can be found at