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Intel's legendary former CEO Andy Grove dies

22 Mar 16

Andy Grove, the legendary former president and chief executive of Intel, has died at the age of 79.

Intel announced Grove’s passing, noting that both during his time at Intel and in retirement, Grove was ‘one of the most influential figures in technology and business’.

The Silicon Valley legend was Intel’s first hire, when the company was founded in 1968 by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore.

He became president in 1979, then chief executive in 1987, handing over the reins after he developed prostate cancer. However, even then, he served as chairman of the board, in a role he held from 1997 to 2005.

Time named him Man of the Year in 1997, with the magazine noting ‘the microchip is the dynamo of a new economy… driven by the passion of Intel’s Andrew Grove’.

Born András Gróf in Budapest, Grove immigrated to the United States in 1956-1957, having survived Nazi occupation and escaped Soviet repression.

After studying chemical engineering and then completing his PhD at the University of California at Berkeley in 1963, he was hired by Gordon Moore at Fairchild Semiconductor as a researcher. He quickly rose through the ranks, becoming assistant head of R&D under Moore.

When Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to found Intel in 1968, Grove was their first hire.

Intel says Grove played ‘a critical role in the decision to move Intel’s focus from memory chips to microprocessors and led the firm’s transformation into a widely recognised consumer brand’.

Under his leadership, Intel produced the chips, including the 386 and Pentium, that helped usher in the PC era.

Meanwhile, the company’s annual revenues soared from $1.9 billion to more than $26 billion under his leadership.

Brian Krzanich, Intel chief executive, said “Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.”

On Twitter he added: “We stand on the shoulders of giants in our work – none bigger than Andy Grove. You’ll be greatly missed.”

While Grove’s role with Intel may be the one he is best remembered for, he was also active in philanthropy and pubic advocacy for issues which were deeply personal to him.

His prostate cancer diagnosis lead to him authoring a 1996 cover story in Fortune, that explained his decision to undergo an unconventional, but ultimately successful, treatment, and he contributed to Parkinson’s research and urged more efficient studying of the disease, which he himself suffered from.

The City College of New York also benefited from Grove’s philanthropy, receiving $26 million to help establish the Grove School of Engineering, while ‘countless generous gifts’ were made to a wide variety of causes.

Grove’s death has sparked an outpouring of tributes on Twitter, with Apple’s Tim Cook noting ‘Andy Grove was one of the giants of the technology world. He loved our country and epitomised America at its best.”

Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen said Grove was ‘the best company builder Silicon Valley has ever seen and likely will ever see’.

Venture capitalist John Doerr noted “Silicon Valley (and the world) lost a titan and a freedom fighter. Andy Grove lived the maxim ‘execution is everything’. Andy Grove was a towering leader, menotr and educator. He was ruthlessly, intellectually honest. And rightly proud of building Intel.”

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