They met in New Hampshire in 1957. Her name was Eva; his name was Andras. They were both European refugees. She was a waitress; he was a busboy. Within the year they got married, and they are married still.
Andras Grof. is now called Andrew Grove, and he runs a company called Intel, the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors. The logo ‘Intel Inside’ is recognised around the world, and everybody understands Grove’s slogan ‘Only the paranoid survive’. Grove should also get an honourable mention when it comes to the coining of such terms as ‘Silicon Valley’ and the ‘silicon chip’
Andrew Grove has never managed to rid himself of his strong Hungarian accent, but neither he nor Eva talk much about their paranoid lives in Europe in the face of Nazi and then Soviet invasions. But when Time magazine named Grove Man of the Year for 1997, the cover story was called ‘A Survivor’s Tale’. The article referred to Grove’s schoolboy escape from Hungary in 1956, as well as his bout with. But the article also had in mind Intel’s tough journey to get where it is today.
Towards a chip
Soon after Eva and Andrew married they went to California. He did his Ph.D. at Berkeley, and chose not to join the grand Bell Labs but went to Fairchild Semiconductors, an early sixties start-up company. Grove’s senior colleague was a brilliant man called Gordon Moore.
At the time, one of the major problems in computing concerned the over-heating of vacuum tubes. These, indide the computer, held and released electrical charges with increasing rapidity the faster the machine had to ‘think’. A special kind of transistor or gate had to be found that had an extremely pure chemical surface.
Gordon Moore hit on the idea of using metal oxide and silicon – mos – to create a ‘mos transistor.’ Grove with two colleagues – Deal and Snow – then discovered that when the mos transistors – or chips - were cured, some sodium was introduced which rendered the chips less stable. Making sure that the chip was free of sodium provided an important step towards the silicon revolution.
Eva and Andrew rejoiced. But there was indifference at Fairchild. Luckily Gordon Moore was disenchanted too, and Grove was invited to join Moore and another Fairchild colleague – Bob Noyce – at a new company, Intel. This was in 1968. Moore was CEO but he groomed Grove to become President in 1979, and CEO in 1987.
In 1994 a tiny flaw in Intel’s Pentium chip provoked a weekend media attack. By Monday Grove had authorised $475 million to replace the faulty items, and even despatched his experts to do home visits. Again the survivor turned disaster into triumph.
Love Among the Groves
Eva stood by him all the way, of course. Indeed she has always been more confident about the amount of money Intel, and Grove would make. Grove has a legendary temper, and is tough, but has a cuddly side. His two daughters adore him, but admit that Grove family life is not for the faint-hearted. Grove has tended to set his daughters writing tasks during vacations, but there is also certain wild spontaneity at home: Eva once broke an ankle during an impromptu dance in the family room.
Eva and Andrew, grateful for the help they received when they were starving teenagers, that they intend to leave the vast bulk of their fortune – many hundreds of millions – to charity. The busboy and the waitress have come a long way.
Eva could probably tell they would from that first firm handshake.