Eric Lidow — Pioneer in Power Semiconductors

January 21, 2013 by Jeff Shepard

International Rectifier announced with deep regret that Eric Lidow, the company's founder and former Chairman and CEO passed away on January 18, 2013. Eric Lidow co-founded IR in 1947 and served as Chairman of the company's board of directors until his retirement in May 2008.

Over the course of more than six decades, he transformed International Rectifier from a start-up company that developed selenium photoelectric cells and selenium rectifiers into a world leader in power management technology that today produces thousands of innovative analog, digital, and mixed signal integrated circuits and other advanced power management technologies and products. Mr. Lidow served as the Company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer until 1995, after which time he assumed the position of Executive Chairman.

"Eric was a highly respected pioneer in the power semiconductor industry," said President and Chief Executive Officer, Oleg Khaykin. "The development and growth of International Rectifier was a great source of pride to him and as we continue to grow as a Company, the legacy of Eric's leadership during his 60 years at IR will remain. Everyone at International Rectifier wishes to send their heartfelt condolences to Eric's family at this time of great sorrow."

Eric Lidow was born in Vilnius, Lithuania over one hundred years ago. He was educated as an electrical engineer in Berlin which gave him the clear view that Europe was rapidly approaching war and, after completing his Masters Degree from the Technical University of Berlin, he left for the United States. Eric arrived in New York in October 1937 with $14 in his pocket and a Leica camera.

In 1939 he moved to Los Angeles and started his first semiconductor company, Selenium Corporation of America using borrowed equipment and working in the back of a photo studio. Selenium Corporation of America supported the war effort with advanced power electronics and was sold to Sperry Corporation in 1946. With his father, Leon, Eric started his second power electronics company, International Rectifier, where he was CEO until 1995 and Chairman of the Board until 2008.

Under Eric's leadership International Rectifier pioneered many of the fundamental advances in power electronics. Eric Lidow also pioneered many of today's global business models. Eric Lidow set up semiconductor joint ventures throughout Europe and Japan in the 1950s, often as the first semiconductor company in the country. He went into India in the 1960s, and China in the early 1980s. Operations in all these areas and more exist to this day with thousands of people spread throughout the world.

As a relatively new editor I had the honor and privilege to meet him in his office in El Segundo. I was surprised, impressed and very nervous; he had researched my writing and reporting in some depth and had an accumulation of my editorial work marked up and ready for questions. Eric was as sharp as a razor, even then at well over ninety. He had the rare gift of business and technology astuteness together with a kind and understanding nature that made my meeting with him a personally uplifting and unforgettable high-point in my professional life.

Eric believed that a person's worth is measured based on their contribution to society. He lived his life every day true to that belief. He is survived by his four children, three daughters-in-law, and nine grandchildren.

All who knew him were better for it.