Bill Webber functioned as the company's chief community spokesman, representing Tektronix on a broad variety of civic organizations from the Beaverton School Board to the Portland Opera Guild. Tektronix had become profitable enough to begin some form of philanthropy.  In 1951 Tektronix began to donate oscilloscopes to educational institutions.

Howard Vollum, Bill Webber, and Don Ellis founded the Tektronix Foundation on May 1, 1952. Click on the image to view the Articles of Incorporation.


The Foundations first grant was $750.00 for the 1953 Science Exposition grand prize. Their second grant was $8,000.00 for two years to the Medical School Neurophysiologist Department to hire in support of pain research.

The following is from the Winning With People: The First 40 Years of Tektronix book by Marshall M. Lee published in 1986.  This book is available in hardback or on CD with an index in our store.

At first this program was in formal and somewhat random, but by November 1951, the board took formal action, authorizing the donation of "such number of oscilloscopes as the board of directors in its discretion may deem appropriate" to those schools with engineering or physics departments. As to the number of scopes anticipated in 1951, the board approved the donation of "at least 12."

Even with the board's resolution, however, such a policy was rather haphazard. For a variety of reasons, then, in May of 1952, the Tektronix Foundation came into being. In part the purpose of the foundation was to make the company's contributions more systematic, in part to deal with the legal complexities surrounding large-scale philanthropy. And large scale it was, for by December of 1952 the board approved a resolution which granted the foundation 5% of the company's net profits. It is worth noting here in passing that with this allocation to the Tek Foundation, combined with profit share, which in the fifties routinely exceeded 50% of pre-tax profits, the owners were sharing a significant portion of the company's profits.


This undated document describes the early history of the Foundation by Bill Webber. Click on the image to view the PDF.


This July 6, 1954 TekTalk features an update on the foundation.


The following information on the Tektronix Foundation was taken from the 1956/1957 "You and Tektronix" employee handbook.

One interesting item of note was in the February 10, 1967 issue of TekWeek.  The Foundation accepted a gift of $250 from the Tektronix Employees Bridge Club and targeted the additional funds for an additional scholarship award. This April 23, 1971 TekWeek features the Foundation scholarship selection committee.