By the end of his career Ginzton held some 50 fundamental patents in electronics and microwave devices, had received the 1969 IEEE Medal of Honor “for his outstanding contributions in advancing the technology of high power klystrons and their applications, especially to linear particle accelerators,” and had been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (1966) and the National Academy of Engineering(1965). Beyond this, to borrow from the words used by photographer Carolyn Caddes in her Portraits of Success: Impressions of Silicon Valley Pioneers, “Ginzton [also] contributed to the growth of Silicon Valley as scientist, educator, business executive, environmentalist, and humanitarian.”
Ginzton was born on December 27, 1915, in the Ukrainian city of Ekaterinoslav to Natalia Philapova, a Russian physician, and Leonard Ginzton, an American medical student. So far as can be determined from the confusing records available even to Ginzton himself, his father was born in Russia but as a young man emigrated first to Germany and then to America, where he became a U.S. citizen and participated in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. After some success in finding gold, Leonard Ginzton traveled back to Switzerland, began his first real period of formal education, and after a few years returned to Russia to study medicine and to marry Ginzton’s mother in 1905.
During the following two decades Ginzton’s parents, idealistic medical students and eventually doctors, were caught up in the birth of six children, only two of whom survived infancy, and in the turmoil associated with World War I, the final years of tsarist Russia, and the rise of the new Soviet state. As Ginzton later recalled in an informal autobiography: