The man behind ‘Intel Inside’
Andy Grove, 79, the former CEO and chairman of Intel Corporation who transformed the company into a computer chip powerhouse and helped drive the global personal computer boom is no more. The Hungarian Jewish immigrant—born András Gróf – reached the US in 1956-57 after surviving Nazi occupation and Soviet oppression. He studied chemical engineering at the City College of New York and completed his PhD in 1963 from the University of California at Berkeley. When Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore left Fairchild Semiconductors to set up Intel in 1968, Andy who rose to assistant head of R&D under Moore in Fairchild was their first hire. It is at Intel that Grove emerged as a natural leader. Intel, which manufactured memory chips (DRAMs) till the early 1980s, was forced to change when Japanese imports provided these at much cheaper prices. Grove played a major role in the shift from memory chips to microprocessors—a decision that transformed Intel. The microprocessor —from the early 286 to the 486 and the Pentium chip—helped drive PC and laptop sales around the world. When IBM selected the Intel processor chips for the first IBM PC in 1981, it cemented Intel’s position globally.
Grove became Intel’s president in 1979, CEO in 1987 and chairman and CEO in 1997. In 1998, he gave up the CEO title and stayed on as chairman until 2004. It was during his term as CEO that the ‘Intel Inside’ catch-line was adopted. Under Andy Grove’s leadership, Intel revenues rose from $1.9 billion to $26 billion. In 2015, Intel clocked $55.4 billion in revenues and net income of $11.4 billion. Intel’s dominant position in chips that ran Microsoft’s software cemented the company’s position and even today are a key foundation for future growth. Apart from being an engineer, Grove authored a series of management books that include Only the Paranoid Survive (1999) and High Output Management (1983). Grove, Time magazine’s 1997 Man of the Year, helped Intel emerge as one of the few consumer brands from the semiconductor space. Despite the success in the PC and laptop space, Intel has yet to make a mark in the global mobile phone and tablet business. In his final years, Grove, suffering from prostate cancer, had to also battle Parkinson’s disease. However, beyond these frailties his legacy remains that of the famed Intel microprocessor, the backbone of computing.