Andy Grove, who fled from Nazi and Soviet oppression to become one of the most powerful business leaders in the global tech industry as the chairman and CEO of Intel, died on Monday. He was 79. The cause of death was not reported, though Grove was a longtime sufferer of Parkinson’s disease.
Grove was the first hire at Intel, which was founded in 1968 by former employees of Fairchild Semiconductor. Grove joined on day one as the company’s director of engineering, became Intel’s president in 1979, and its CEO in 1987.
He stepped aside as CEO when he developed prostate cancer, but he continued to serve as chairman of the board until 2004. During his leadership, Intel successfully transformed itself from a maker of memory chips to the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors, growing revenue from $1.9 billion to $26 billion.
That transformation, which Grove charted in two widely read management textbooks, earned him a reputation as one of the smartest thinkers in Silicon Valley and made Intel a rare company that continued to grow after dramatically altering its core business.
Grove was idolized by some of tech’s best-known leaders, including former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who called him in 1997 to ask whether he should return to Apple. (“Steve, I don’t give a [expletive] about Apple,” came the response, according to Walter Isaacson’s biography Steve Jobs.)
During Grove’s tenure as CEO, Intel produced chips including the 386 and Pentium, which became name brands unto themselves and laid the groundwork for much of the personal computing era. “Andy approached corporate strategy and leadership in ways that continue to influence prominent thinkers and companies around the world,”
Intel Chairman Andy Bryant said in a statement. “He combined the analytic approach of a scientist with an ability to engage others in honest and deep conversation, which sustained Intel’s success over a period that saw the rise of the personal computer, the Internet and Silicon Valley.”
Grove was born András Gróf in Budapest, Hungary, in 1936. When he was 8, the Nazis invaded Hungary and sent 500,000 Jews to concentration camps. In his memoirs, Grove recounts assuming a false identity along with his mother, and being hidden away by friends until the occupation ended.
During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, he escaped to Austria and then America. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in New York, Grove came to California, where he earned a PhD in 1963 from the University of California at Berkeley.
Grove is survived by his wife, Eva, two children, and eight grandchildren. His books include High-Output Management and Only the Paranoid Survive.