Instrument Society of America in 1978 and 2005. Tony was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2008.
Anthony David Kurtz was born on May 3, 1929, in Brooklyn, New York. His father was a metallurgist, a pioneer in powder metallurgy, and a founder of Callite Tungsten. His mother was a member of the 1924 U.S. Olympic swim team. Together, his parents later started Kulite Tungsten. Tony attended high school in Teaneck, New Jersey. He enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), playing club rugby and swimming, and received a B.S. and an M.S. in physics in 1951 and 1952, respectively. He worked at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory while pursing an Sc.D. in physical metallurgy. He graduated in 1955. His thesis topic was the mechanical properties of a newly promising element—silicon. Upon graduation from MIT, Kurtz became manager of diffused device research at Cleavite Transistor Products. In 1957 he set up an applied semiconductor research laboratory for Honeywell and served as its director until 1960.
Kurtz wanted to own his own company and looked for a niche in which he would not need to compete with large established players in the semiconductor business (which meant transistor and diode manufacturers in those days). He found his niche in silicon semiconductor strain gauges. In 1959 he set up Kulite Semiconductor Products in an unused loft of his parents’ company in Ridgefield, New Jersey. Kulite negotiated a license from Western Electric for its patent on the piezo-resistive properties of silicon. Kulite teamed with Bytrex (an established strain gauge manufacturer) to form Kulite-Bytrex to bring the first semiconductor strain gauge to market. Semiconductor strain gauges offered 100 times the sensitivity of conventional metal foil and wire gauges. Their initial customers were established pressure transducer manufacturers. The Kulite-Bytrex marketing partnership came to an end when Schaevitz, an established transducer manufacturer, acquired Bytrex, leaving Kulite free to develop and promote its own gauges and transducers.
Kulite soon brought the silicon diaphragm pressure transducer to market. Silicon is an excellent material for