Intel is undoubtedly one of the most iconic PC component makers in Silicon Valley. Today we take a look back at its past and one of its most legendary leaders, Andrew Grove, who passed away today at the age of 79.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich :
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Intel Chairman and CEO Andy Grove,” “Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.”
How It All Began
Why don't we start from the very beginning, before there was even an Intel. It all started with a company that was spearheading semiconductor innovation in the late fifties and in the sixties, arguably the one that started the entire Silicon valley computing revolution, Fairchild Semiconductor. It was inside Fairchild and through the genius of Robert Noyce that the world's first commercial integrated circuit came to be. And it was under the very same roof that the observation we've come to know as Moore's Law was conceptualized by Gordon Moore.
Fairchild was actually a huge company back then and Fairchild Semiconductor was merely a subsidiary of a much bigger entity, Fairchild Camera And Instrument. In the late sixties the culture inside Fairchild Semiconductor changed, it was losing its status as the leader and driver of innovation in the industry. Unfortunate mismanagement meant that the innovators inside the company were not recognized or adequately compensated for what they did. The revenue generated from their hard work went to Fairchild Camera And Instrument and little of it came back to Fairchild Semiconductor where the real innovation was taking place.
Robert Noyce grew weary of the situation and convinced Gordon Moore to leave, together they founded Intel in 1968. Incidentally, a year later, Jerry Sanders, who was the Worldwide Sales Manager at Fairchild Semiconductor, also left in to found his own company, Advanced Micro Devices.
The Motto Of Andrew Grove Was "Only the paranoid survive"
Robert Noyce recruited Grove on the very same day Intel was incorporated, making him Intel's first non-founding employee. Andrew Grove was born to a Jewish middle-class Hungarian family who had survived the Nazi occupation of Hungary during WW2. At the age of twenty he fled from the then communist controlled Hungary and finally made his way to the US where he continued his education to become a chemical engineer.
Grove spoke of his early life in Hungary in his memoirs.
By the time I was twenty, 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. . . [where] many young people were killed; countless others were interned. Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.
Grove Is Intel's Most Successful And Second Longest Running CEO
Grove was Intel's President from 1979 to 1987 when he succeeded Gordon Moore as the company's CEO. Being a chemical engineer Grove focused heavily on the manufacturing side of the business. He spearheaded the development and expansion of Intel's fabrication plants, propelling the company's manufacturing capability and capacity from a handful of small facilities to become the world's largest semiconductor manufacturer.
He had an eight feet by nine feet cubicle for an office where worked alongside ordinary Intel employees. He refused to give himself any perks just for being the CEO, not even a parking spot. In 1998 he stepped down as CEO after being diagnosed with Prostate cancer. In his 12 year tenure as CEO, Intel's market capitalization skyrocketed from $4 billion to $197 billion, making it the world's 7th largest company by the time he left.
Truly then, Grove made Intel the giant that it is today. He left a permanent mark on the industry and indeed the world.