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Over the years, vacuum techniques for both oriented and epitaxial film growth, and also for device processing, have played a critical role in the evolution of advanced solid‐state components. The American Vacuum Society, through its symposia and publishing activities, has contributed greatly to this progress. The history of organizational and technical factors that have impacted on these developments is summarized, and selected examples of unique epitaxial metallic, semiconductor and ferroelectric device structures are discussed.