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On Friday, July 8, 2016, the industry lost a pioneer and legend with the passing of Stuart C. Baker at the age of 85.
Stuart (Stu) Baker was best known for co-founding Amistar Corporation in 1971, which was influential in the design and development of automation for the assembly of discreet components onto printed circuit boards. A major innovator in the SMT industry, Mr. Baker served as Amistar’s Director and President, Chairman of the Board, and as Director of Distributed Delivery Networks.
Amistar Corporation is renowned in the electronics industry and widely known for its uniquely designed, yet cost effective approach in the insertion and SMT placement machine industry. Amistar has a long history of delivering leading-edge component placement machines, vision systems, custom automation and software control tools for circuit card assembly.
Stuart Baker was an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, businessman and family man. He was an accomplished musician who turned down a scholarship at Juilliard School of Music to gain his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. Baker worked as a research assistant at M.I.T. in the field of acoustics, in which he was responsible for the design and construction of miniature hot wire anemometer instrumentation systems for the measurement of particle velocity cross-correlation in turbulent fields.
His professional career began at Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation with the responsibilities for evaluation, systems engineering and technical direction of contractors responsible for the development of electronic range instrumentation dedicated to ICBM and IRBM flight test programs.
As Ramo-Wooldridge was becoming what is now TRW, Stuart moved to Space Technology Laboratories’ and was active in their satellite and space vehicle programs during the development of the Pioneer I, Pioneer II, Explorer VI, Pioneer V, Atlas / ABLE-4 and Atlas/ ABLE-5 payloads. He supervised the engineering group, which designed and built the STL physics experiments placed on these vehicles and was responsible for the integration of the equipment into these payloads.
Additional responsibility included electronic design and construction of Micrometeorite Data Conversion equipment and of the television system that secured the first picture of Earth taken from a satellite.
Flush from these technological successes and surrounded by many gifted engineers, Stuart decided to make the entrepreneurial leap of starting his first business. Backed by Gordon Marshall, Marshall Laboratories Incorporated on October 6, 1960. As President and Technical Director of Marshall Laboratories, Stuart directed the manufacturing operations and development of ultra-reliable electronic equipment for space and missile applications. Marshall Labs morphed into Marshall Data Systems, which manufactured “plug compatible” mass storage drive systems. This entrepreneurial spirit drove Stuart to help found Amistar Corporation in 1971.
Mr. Baker was respected by his colleagues, employees and friends, and is survived by his loving wife of 60 years, Nancy, his daughter Kim, and two sons Eric and Scott.