Andrew Grove, Semiconductor Pioneer and Former Intel CEO, Dies at 79

If thoughts of the x386, the Pentium chip, or the “Intel Inside” sticker give you a nostalgic smile, there's sad news ahead.

Andrew S. Grove, former CEO and Chairman of Intel, passed away Monday (March 21) at the age of 79 in his home in Los Altos, Calif. He was one of the co-founders of the chipmaking giant and an instrumental figure in the proliferation of the microprocessor technology behind today's computers, cell phones, and other electronics. The cause of death has not yet been specified.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Intel Chairman and CEO Andy Grove,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said in a statement. “Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.”

Born in 1936 in Budapest, Hungary as András Gróf, Grove escaped Hungary at the age of 20, during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. He detailed his early life in his memoir, Swimming Across: a Memoir writing, “By the time I was [20], I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation, the Nazis' "Final Solution," the siege of Budapest by the Soviet Red Army, a period of chaotic democracy in the years immediately after the war, a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint...”

Grove eventually found himself in the United States circa 1957 where he later changed his name to the Americanized Andrew Grove. He studied chemical engineering at the City College of New York and received a PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1963. His first job after graduation was working as a researcher at the pioneering transistor and integrated circuit manufacturer, Fairchild Semiconductor. While at Fairchild, Grove was hired by and eventually worked under Gordon Moore (as in Moore's Law).

In 1968, when Moore and Robert Noyce, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, left to form NM Electronics (later renamed to Intel), Grove was their first hire. According to an interview with NPR, when Moore told Grove of his plans to leave Fairchild, Grove “invited himself along.”

Grove climbed the ranks at Intel, and became the corporation's chairman of the board from 1997 to 2005. He was also CEO from 1987 to 1998 and president from 1979 to 1997. He was integral in Intel's decision to move away from the company toward microprocessors and away from its original core competency as a memory chip manufacturer. He was also key in negotiating with IBM to put Intel processors in all of its personal computers –- a move that more or less ensured Intel's ubiquity through the 1990s and 2000s. During his tenure Grove saw Intel's market capitalization grow from $4 billion to $197 billion.

Grove was also a prolific author, writing several books on technology and leadership. “[Grove] combined the analytic approach of a scientist with an ability to engage others in honest and deep conversation, which sustained Intel’s success over a period that saw the rise of the personal computer, the Internet and Silicon Valley,” Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said in a statement.

Grove is survived by his wife Eva, two daughters, eight grandchildren, and a legacy that will only grow as technology continues to advance.

Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Grove escaped from Nazi-occupied Hungary. Hungary was not occupied by Nazis at the time.

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Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News

[Main image source: Intel]

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