Andrew S. Grove, the longtime chief executive and chairman of Intel Corporation who was one of the most acclaimed and influential personalities of the computer and Internet era, died on Monday at his home in Los Altos, Calif. He was 79.
The cause of his death has not yet been determined, said Chuck Mulloy, a spokesman for the family.
At Intel, Mr. Grove helped midwife the semiconductor revolution — the use of increasingly sophisticated chips to power computers — that proved to be as momentous for economic and social development as hydrocarbon fuels, electricity and telephones were in earlier eras. Intel's microprocessors were also essential for digital cameras, consumer electronic products, household appliances, toys, manufacturing equipment and a wide assortment of devices that depended on computerized functions.
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 suffered from 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 as "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 of the Harvard Business School and 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 non-hierarchical, 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, said Mr. Yoffie.
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, headquartered 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 András Gróf 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, 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.