• 1939 March 28
    (b.) - ?


An Israeli electrical engineer and business executive, he is a former Vice President of Intel Corporation, he is the inventor of the erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM) and the founder and first General Manager of Intel Israel, Intel?s extensive operations in Israel. He is also the author (with Robert Howard) of Leadership the Hard Way (Jossey-Bass, 2008). He was born in Amsterdam, five months before the start of World War II. His parents were Abraham and Feijga Frohman, Polish Jews who had emigrated to the Netherlands in the early 1930s to escape rising anti-Semitism in Poland. In 1942, after the German invasion of the Low Countries and as the Nazi grip on Holland?s Jewish community tightened, his parents decided to give their child to acquaintances in the Dutch resistance who placed him with the Van Tilborghs, an orthodox Christian farming family that lived in the village of Sprang Capelle in the region of Noord-Brabant near the Belgian border. The Van Tilborghs hid him for the duration of the war. His parents died in the Holocaust. Located by relatives in Palestine after the war, he spent a few years in orphanages for Jewish children whose parents had died in the war, before emigrating to Israel in 1949 after the founding of the Jewish state. Adopted by relatives, he grew up in Tel Aviv, served in the Israeli army, and in 1959, enrolled at the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology to study Electrical Engineering. After graduating from the Technion in 1963, he traveled to the United States to study for his Master?s degree and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. After receiving his Masters in 1965, he took a job in the R&D labs of Fairchild Semiconductor, a breeding ground of many early Silicon Valley firms. In 1969, after completing his Ph.D., he followed former Fairchild managers Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce, and Andrew Grove to Intel Corporation, which they had founded the previous year. It was while troubleshooting a fault in an early Intel product in 1970 that he developed the concept for the EPROM, the first semiconductor memory that was both erasable and easily reprogrammable. At the time, there were essentially two types of semiconductor memories. Random-access memory (RAM) chips were easy to program, but a chip would lose its charge (and therefore, the information encoded on the chip) when its power source was turned off. In industry parlance, RAM chips were volatile. Read-only memory (ROM) chips, by contrast, were nonvolatile?that is, the information encoded in the chip was fixed and unchangeable. But the process for programming ROM memories was time-consuming and cumbersome. Typically, the data had to be ?burned in? at the factory: physically embedded on the chip through a process called ?masking? that generally took weeks to complete. And once programmed, the data in the ROM chip could not be altered. The EPROM combined the best of both worlds. Like ROM, it was nonvolatile. But, like RAM, it was easily reprogrammable. It was the catalyst for a whole line of innovation and development that eventually led to today?s ubiquitous flash memory technology. The EPROM was also a key innovation in what became the personal computer industry, one that Intel founder Gordon Moore has termed ?as important in the development of the microcomputer industry as the microprocessor itself.? It remained Intel?s most profitable product well into the 1980s. After inventing the EPROM, he left Intel to teach Electrical Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana. He returned to Intel in 1973, but his long-term vision was to return to Israel to create a center of high-tech research there. So in 1974, he went back to Israel where he helped Intel establish a small chip design center in Haifa?Intel?s first outside the United States. On his return to Israel, he taught at the School of Applied Sciences at Hebrew University (which he eventually came to direct) and consulted to Intel on the side. But in 1985, after having negotiated for Intel with the Israeli government to establish a semiconductor fabrication plant in Jerusalem, Intel?s first outside the United States, he left Hebrew University to become General Manager of Intel Israel. Over the next fifteen years, he worked to establish Intel Israel as an important global center of excellence for Intel Corporation. In 1991, during the First Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein?s Iraq attacked Israel with Scud missiles, he kept Intel Israel open?despite recommendations from the Israel Civil Defense authority that all non-essential businesses close down. As a result, Intel Israel was one of the few businesses?and the only manufacturing business?in the country to remain open throughout the entire war. He has described his experience during the war in an article in the Harvard Business Review. In 1995, he led Intel?s efforts to establish a second semiconductor fab in Israel, in the town of Qiryat Gat in the south of Israel on the edge of the Negev Desert. Today, Intel Israel is the headquarters for the corporation?s global R&D for wireless technology (it developed the company?s Centrino mobile computing technology, which powers millions of laptops worldwide) and is responsible for designing the company?s most advanced microprocessor products. It is also a major center for chip fabrication. In 2008, the company opened a second semiconductor fab in Qiryat Gat, one of the most advanced facilities in the world. A $3.5 billion investment, the project was the largest construction project in the history of the state of Israel. With some seven thousand employees (projected to reach nearly ten thousand by the end of 2008), Intel Israel is the country?s largest private employer. In 2007, Intel Israel?s exports totaled $1.4 billion and represented roughly 8.5 percent of the total exports of Israel?s electronics and information industry (which themselves equaled about a quarter of Israel?s total industrial exports?the highest percentage for high tech anywhere in the world). He retired from Intel in 2001. Today, he divides his time between his home in Jerusalem and his vacation home in the Dolomite Mountains of Italy. Among his many current projects is a plan to create a Center for Alternative Thinking, at a site near Kibbutz Sde Boker in the Negev Desert. He has received numerous awards honoring his scientific, technical, and business achievements, including: In 1986, he was the recipient of the IEEE Jack Morton Award for meritorious achievement in the field of solid state devices; In 1991, he was awarded the Israel Prize for exact sciences; In 2008, he received the IEEE?s Edison Medal, honoring a career of meritorious achievement in electrical engineering; and In 2009, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.
  • Date of Birth:

    1939 March 28
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  • Noted For:

    Inventor of the erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM) which eventually led to today’s flash memory technology
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