I remember the first time I bought a computer that had a sticker on it saying "Intel Inside". I had no idea what that meant, but figured since the manufacturer thought it was important enough to put it there, "Intel Inside" must be a good thing. That's exactly what Intel wanted me to think - and if then-CEO Andy Grove hadn't approved this direct-to-consumer marketing approach, Intel might not have become the company it is, and most of us wouldn't know the name Andy Grove. That would be a shame, because, as Richard S. Tedlow's sweeping new biography, Andy Grove, makes clear, the Intel mastermind's ride to the top of Silicon Valley is an unlikely and amazing story.
If you've read Grove's 2001 account of his early life, Swimming Across, then you know he spent his childhood in Hungary, where he was born Andras Istvan Grof and where his Jewish family lived in fear for many years, first from the Nazis, then from the Communists. His father was taken away with no account of his whereabouts (he eventually made it back; by that time, Grove didn't even know him), while others in his extended family were taken away and never heard from again. Grove managed to flee the country when he was 20 and made it to the United States. This is where that book ends, and, despite Grove's having written a number of other business books, Swimming Across is probably the only published work that gives insight into Grove's personal life with Grove's cooperation.
Until Andy Grove, that is, which covers both the early life and the stunning career rise of Grove in Silicon Valley. Author Tedlow had access to both Grove and the many personal notebooks Grove had saved over the years. In addition, Tedlow interviewed many of the people who knew Grove best over the course of his career, including former Intel CEOs Gordon Moore and Craig Barrett, current CEO Paul Otellini, Grove's wife Eva, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and others who worked with Grove at Intel or competed against him at other technology companies. The end result isn't just a window into Andy Grove, but also a comprehensive history of Intel and to an extent the PC industry itself.
What the average consumer may not realize is that Intel existed for many years before it became a name in the general public's consciousness (and before it became so important that Time named Andy Grove its Man of the Year for 1997). Intel's forming was big news within its industry in the late 1960s, but at that point it was a manufacturer of memory for mainframe computers and Andy Grove was an engineer more adept at science than managing a company. Unfortunately, so were the rest of Intel's executives - no one thought much about management until Grove, out of frustration as much as anything else, started learning what it took to actually run a multimillion-dollar organization. It's safe to say that without Grove, Intel wouldn't exist today.