Last week one of the true giants in engineering died. His name is Andrew (Andy) Grove (anglicised name from Hungarian) and he drove the microprocessor revolution (amongst other things). Due to the desperate situation in Hungary at the end of the Second World War, he immigrated to the USA and became one of the giants of the semiconductor industry.

One of his stock phrases (which formed the subject of one of his books) was: Only the paranoid survive in business.

Dear Colleagues

Last week one of the true giants in engineering died. His name is Andrew (Andy) Grove (anglicised name from Hungarian) and he drove the microprocessor revolution (amongst other things). Due to the desperate situation in Hungary at the end of the Second World War, he immigrated to the USA and became one of the giants of the semiconductor industry.

One of his stock phrases (which formed the subject of one of his books) was: Only the paranoid survive in business.


Early Days
After arriving in New York from Hungary, he undertook a bachelor of engineering at New York City College; quickly followed by a PhD in chemical engineering at the University of California Berkeley. He was one of the first employees of Intel – I think employee no. 3 - and rapidly became CEO of a fast growing company in the early days of Silicon Valley.

Big Challenges
Intel was originally designing and manufacturing memory chips – initially very successfully. They subsequently had huge challenges with Japanese dumping of memory chips at a low cost. This caused huge stresses for the early Intel. Andrew then swapped the company across to production of Intel microprocessors. A huge gamble at the time but one which has paid off significantly for Intel. Today it has a market capitalisation of $US197 billion and 64,000 employees and is hugely successful.

Andrew Grove’s Philosophies
Andy believed that handling change in business was a key attribute of all firms. He believed that business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. As a company grows you get more stability and you then become complacent and that probably becomes the catalyst for the unravelling of the business.

All corporations are living organisms and they have to continue to sheds their skins and change their methods continuously to survive and indeed, prosper. Andy was a very modest individual preferring a simple office cubicle to a mahogany adult corner office. No reserved parking places at the office, no big cars and no big houses for Andy. He was extraordinarily disciplined, precise and detailed orientated. But coupled with enormous creativity.
 
He believed in driving a strongly entrepreneurial culture. A notable author and scientist, he was a prodigious writer and ‘technology cheerleader’. One of his texts is still being used by leading universities. A more recent book on management was translated into many languages.

Finally, he is also proof of the enormous value in focussing all businesses globally and embracing people, ideas and cultures from all over the world.

A remarkable man and engineer and someone who we should always remember.  

RIP Andy Grove.


Yours in engineering learning

Steve

Mackay’s Musings – 16th Feb’16 #587
125, 273 readers – www.idc-online.com/blogs/stevemackay

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