About Us

The IT History Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of knowledge about the people, products, and companies that together comprise the field of computing.

Since 1978 our organization, and its hundreds of members, have worked toward this goal, and we invite you to contribute your own knowledge and memories on this website! (read more)

Andy Grove, ex-Intel CEO & Silicon Valley icon, dies at 79

There are several excerpted articles and quotes from those that worked for or with Andy Grove at Intel: San Jose Mercury article by Steve Johnson (edited for clarity and conciseness by Alan J Weissberger):

Andy Grove, the brilliant Hungarian-born former chief executive and chairman of chip-making colossus Intel, and one of Silicon Valley's most revered business leaders, died Monday at the age of 79.  During his three decades with the Santa Clara corporation, the gruff and demanding Grove helped mold Intel into a multibillion-dollar Goliath and the world's biggest semiconductor company. Along the way, he also became a prolific author, donated millions of dollars to charity and was lavished with awards, including being named Time magazine's Man of the Year.

"Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs and business leaders," said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich. Finishing City College in 1960 at the top of his class with a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering, he entered graduate school at UC Berkeley and arranged for his parents to leave Hungary and join him in California. After receiving a doctorate degree in chemical engineering in 1963, Grove landed a job with Silicon Valley chip pioneer Fairchild Semiconductor, where he became assistant director of research and development in 1967. But his career really took off the next year when he left Fairchild to become director of operations at Intel, which had been co-founded that year by two other Fairchild expatriates, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce. David Laws, the semiconductor curator at the Computer History Museum, worked at Fairchild where Grove's team developed the foundation of the metal oxide semiconductor chip that created Silicon Valley. "At Intel, Andy not only got MOS to work but turned it into high volume production" said Laws. "And that's the story of Silicon Valley. Without MOS, we certainly wouldn't be at a billion transistors on a chip," he said. Back then, Intel was hinging its commercial hopes on developing memory chips, so called because they store information. But launching a new business was stressful. Intel's official history noted that employees sometimes flew into screaming fits, and one manager grew so angry about the late production of a report, he chased an engineer through the building throwing pencils at him. "I was absolutely petrified we would fail," Grove was quoted as saying in the corporate account, adding that he took extreme measures to create the impression the chipmaker was viable. When customers toured the business, according to the account, Grove said he "ran around moving our people from one place in the building to another so it would look busier," and the employees were given several hats to wear to make the workforce seem bigger than it actually was. He became Intel's president in 1979, CEO in 1987 and chairman in 1997. Along the way, Grove earned a reputation as a demanding taskmaster. Named one of America's toughest bosses by Fortune magazine, he could be exceedingly testy with his underlings -- especially if they failed to show up at work by 8 a.m. or were sloppy in their presentations -- reportedly barking at employees at times and using alarm clocks to keep meetings on track. "Andy relentlessly upped the pace of Intel," Paul Saffo, Silicon Valley forecaster, said Monday. "He's the guy who built it into the titan of industry it became. He did it by a unique mix of vision, and velocity. ... You have to flee into the future as fast as you can and the moment you slow down, you're toast." Described as "brutally honest" with others by Silicon Valley marketing guru Regis McKenna, Grove's gruff manner could rub sensitive people the wrong way. But his employees felt comfortable enough around Grove -- who loved the music of John Denver and the rock group Queen -- to fire rubberbands at him as he strolled through the hallways and loudly razz him when he once nearly knocked some video equipment off a table. Widely regarded as a brilliant problem solver, Grove became close with Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who viewed the Intel CEO as a mentor and one of his heroes. But in "Only the Paranoid Survive," a book Grove published in 1996, he confessed to obsessively fretting about his business. "I worry about products getting screwed up, and I worry about products getting introduced prematurely," he wrote. "I worry about factories not performing well, and I worry about having too many factories. I worry about hiring the right people, and I worry about morale slacking off. And, of course, I worry about competitors." But Grove said he mostly anguished over what he called "strategic inflection points," where Intel went through fundamental and sometimes painful changes. One such transition occurred during the mid-1980s, when intense Japanese competition forced the company to shift from making memory chips to microprocessors. Shortly after that, a sharp and unexpected drop in business caused it to close seven factories, jettison several businesses and cut its workforce by a third. "There were dozens and dozens of companies in this valley producing personal computers," Grove said of those days in a later interview with this newspaper. "So the collision came, and there was a huge shakeout. We went from a period of time when everybody was begging us for parts to, all of a sudden, we were begging them for orders, and all that happened in a period of 30 days." But Grove persevered. In 1997, he was named Time magazine's Man of the Year. And from the day he became CEO until he stepped down to be replaced by Craig Barrett in 1998, Intel's annual sales increased from $1.9 billion to $25 billion, and its profit ballooned from $248 million to $6.9 billion. Grove -- who earned a slew of business, engineering and other awards over his career -- relinquished his position as chairman in 2005 but remained active in the company as a senior adviser while pursuing other interests. He continued to indulge his passion for writing, cranking out technical papers, magazine articles, newspaper columns and books. He also advocated for fuel-efficient vehicles to cut the nation's dependence on foreign oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the subject of health became a special concern. http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_29667603/andy-grove-former-intel-ceo-dies 

Quote from Dave House, MSEE and former GM of Intel's Microprocessor Group. Dave worked directly for Andy for many years:

“Andy was one of the smartest, but also one of the most articulate people I have ever worked with, which is amazing as English was his second language. He could summarize a situation clearly and distinctly with a few words you could remember.   Andy focused on problems, a 1-1 meeting with Andy was 5% on successes and 95% on problems. Andy could find 12 out of every 3 problems.”

Dave House

Quote from Eli Harari, PhD and founder of San Disk, who worked at Intel (see Excellent Flash Memory Summit (FMS) History session with Eli Harari) : "Andy was a rare talent and a great leader. Even if he and I did not always agree when I worked at Intel from 1979-81, I learned more about leadership from him than from almost anyone else in our industry. His passing represents the end of an important era in Silicon Valley history." - Eli Harari

Quotes collected by Patrick May in Silicon Valley Remembers Andy Grove: Here are what some in Silicon Valley are saying about their departed colleague:

“RIP Andy Grove. The best company builder Silicon Valley has ever seen, and likely will ever see.” — Tweeted by Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen
“Andy Grove was one of the giants of the technology world. He loved our country and epitomized America at its best. Rest in peace.” — Tweeted by Apple CEO Tim Cook.
“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.” — Intel CEO Brian Krzanich
“Andy Grove was a towering leader, mentor, and educator. He was ruthlessly, intellectually honest. And rightly proud of building Intel.” —  Venture capitalist John Doerr
“I’m sad to hear that Andy Grove has died. I loved working with him. He was one of the great business leaders of the 20th century” — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates
“Saddened by the passing of Andy Grove…a pioneer, a leader and a great teacher.” — Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
“Very sad to hear of the passing of the great Andy Grove, former CEO of @intel. A tremendous positive force on our industry & community.” — Salesforce founder, chairman and CEO Marc Benioff “
“Andy Grove has passed away today – farewell to a titan of Silicon Valley.” — Futurist Paul Saffo

From a NY Times obit story by Jonathan Kandall:

Besides presiding over the development of Intel’s memory chips and microprocessors in laboratory research, Mr. Grove gained a reputation as a ruthlessly effective manager who spurred associates and cowed rivals in a cutthroat, high-tech business world where companies rose and fell at startling speed. Mr. Grove’s famous slogan, “Only the Paranoid Survive,” became the title of his 1996 best seller describing his management philosophy.

Adding to Mr. Grove’s appeal was his rags-to-riches immigrant story. A survivor of the Nazi Holocaust and the 1956 Soviet invasion of his native Hungary, he arrived in the United States as a penniless youth who spoke little English and had severe hearing loss. Within decades, Mr. Grove was worth hundreds of millions of dollars. And in 1997, he was chosen Man of the Year by Time magazine for being “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips.”

Mr. Grove in some ways was considered the father of Silicon Valley, said David B. Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School and a longtime Intel board member. Mr. Grove’s influence, Mr. Yoffie said, came largely from his ideas about organizational practices and design — Intel was the birthplace of nonhierarchical, open settings and low-partitioned cubicles rather than walled-in offices.

Mr. Grove’s work ethic, his personal drive and his notion of the value of “creative confrontation” became the managerial model for generations of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and executives like Apple’s co-founder Steven P. Jobs, who regularly sought Mr. Grove’s counsel, Mr. Yoffie said.

"Only the Paranoid Survive" — Andy Grove

Mr. Grove, a tightly coiled, slim man of medium height, was by no means infallible. Several times during his long involvement with Intel, the Silicon Valley giant courted disaster. The causes ranged from unexpectedly tough competition to faulty Intel products to poor management decisions.

But Intel rebounded stronger from each episode, thanks largely to Mr. Grove’s ability to recognize the gravity of a crisis and set a new course. “There are waves and then there’s a tsunami,” he wrote in “Only the Paranoid Survive.” “When a change in how some element of one’s business is conducted becomes an order of magnitude larger than what that business is accustomed to, then all bets are off.”

Mr. Grove’s management ideas helped make Intel, which has its headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., one of the most profitable companies in the world, with an average annual return of more than 40 percent for its shareholders from the late 1980s to the turn of the century.

Andrew S. Grove was born Andras Grof on Sept. 2, 1936, into a Jewish household in Budapest. His father owned a small dairy business, and his mother helped keep the books. As a child, Mr. Grove was afflicted with scarlet fever and an ear infection that left him almost deaf. His father was rounded up by German troops occupying Hungary during World War II and sent to a labor camp, where he survived typhoid and pneumonia.

Mr. Grove in 1991 with a silicon wafer, part of the process to make Intel’s 386 microprocessor. Credit: Paul Sakuma/Associated Press.

Andy Grove in 2008. Credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Share this post