Eric Lidow, founder and chairman of International Rectifier from 1946 to 2008, died on Friday, January 19, 2013 at the age of 100. And though it wasn’t the way the Third Reich would have preferred it, he outlived the German High Command by more than 60 years.
Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, Lidow earned a dipl. Eng (MS) degree from the Technical University of Berlin. He was a founding member of the Berlin Zionist Society and aided and abetted other Jews leaving Germany before the Holocaust. He then came to New York in October 1937 with $14 and a Leica camera.
In Los Angeles in 1939, he started his first semiconductor company, Selenium Corporation of America, using borrowed equipment and working in the back of a photo studio. The company made advanced power electronics and was sold to Sperry Corporation in 1946.
That same year, through the Red Cross, Lidow located his parents, who had survived the war and brought them to the United States. With his father Leon, he started International Rectifier. An innovator and globalist, he directed the creation of new power electronics products.
In the process, he set up new semiconductor joint ventures in Europe and Japan in the 1950s, often as the first semiconductor company in the country. In the 1960s, he found partners in India and China.
When he retired from the chairmanship of International Rectifier in 2008, he told Electronic Design, “The development and growth of International Rectifier has been a great source of pride to me,” said Lidow. “While I am passionate about the technology, people are the vital ingredient.”