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Archive for the tag “Intel”

The Butcher of Tiananmen Square

Bob Noyce had been the first senior leader of Intel to go to China.  He had gone there in late 1982 and met with Deng Xiaoping.  In about August 1983 Hank O’Hara, then Vice President of Sales for Intel, went to Beijing and met with Premier Zhao. China was anxious to do a deal with us which would get them more microprocessor technology fast. Zhao had chided Hank with an admonishment that went something like this: “Why have you Intel people done nothing with China? We have asked your Chairman to propose a deal for us to work together yet no one has done anything”.

Well Hank came back and talked to Bill Lattin who called me into his trailer. Bill said something like “Look Greeve the Chinese are all in a dither and you and your guys have got to put together some type of technology transfer deal. There’s been lots of talk but no results and you’re going to have to change all that”!
Well to make a long story short, a bunch of people joined me and we pulled together Intel’s first proposal for a business relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Our proposal was we would transfer computer hardware and software technology and training to the computer engineering department of the Aviation Ministry in return for them purchasing tens of millions of dollars of single board computers. In February 1984, four guys, Francis Yu, Chris Lingle, Mike Kemple, and I flew up to Beiing and negotiated the deal and the final watershed agreement with their Import/Export arm CATICunknown was done by the spring.

So as the wheels of that deal started to turn it was time for the ceremony. Of the Intel “office of the president” only Bob Noyce had been to China and so in early 1985 I helped Francis Yu organize a visit for Gordon Moore, then Intel’s President and his wife Betty. It was largely ceremonial with tours of factories, speeches to technology associations and ministry leadership, and a public resigning of the agreement. Of course we ate our way through the trip with one memorable feast after another. There are a number of lake parks just west and north of the Forbidden City which are fun to stroll through – we had a small luncheon banquet in an ancient building for about 30 Intel and PRC leaders there – delicious.

But the high point of the ceremonies was to be a “state meeting” where Gordon was to meet with the very powerful Vice Premier, Li Peng, who for a decade, starting a year or so after our visit, was the Premier of the PRC and head of its National Congree.


Vice Premier Li Peng

I had to do the briefing for Gordon and in my research uncovered the fact that Vice Premier Li was the adopted son of Zhou En Lai. Li’s father, a member of the revolution, had been executed by the Kuomintang. During the “Long March” Zhou had given the six year old Li his blanket to keep him from freezing as they hid out in a cave in mountainous western China. So Li was destined for power in the seemingly, never ending incestuous realms of human politics.

I had to come up with the ceremonial gift that, in Asia, is a required part of any meeting between leaders. Teeing off from the tale of the blanket I went to our Portland based Pendleton woolen mills and purchased a lovely American Indian patterned kingsized blanket. Gordon raised an eyebrow when I told him what he was going to present but I convinced him with the cave story – and anyway, who doesn’t want a Pendleton blanket?


Pendleton Blankets

There is a marvelous building near the Forbidden City which some nickname “The Chinese White House”. It is called Zongnanhai, which refers to the multiple lakes west of the palaces and the “imperial garden” in its midst…it now refers to the compound where the seat of power in China often resides and usually holds its most significant and power laden meetings. That was where our state meeting was to take place. Home of emperors and presidents, its history is palpable as you approach it in a limousine and, after disembarking, begin the walk to its majesty. The entrance to this compound is an enormous two story, carved wood, polychrome gate called “Xinhuamen”. unknown-2Its multiple eves sweep upward as wings. The gate entrance is flanked by large calligraphy signs with patriotic sayings and a couple of soldiers in full dress, and behind them, a massive gold written exhortation “Serve the People”. The theme is red and gold with sky blue accents under the handsome tiled roofs.

Six of us walked through the gate into the courtyard with Gordon in the lead and turned left approaching the “Hall of Purple Light”, the most important meeting hall. There we took seats in luxurious upholstered chairs with side tables laden with porcelain tea utensils and steaming Longjing dragon well tea. I took in the carved screens and silk paintings around the handsome room as the translated conversation between Gordon and Premier Li covered predictable ground. Then my turn came as I brought the blanket up to Gordon who presented it to Li. Their chatting was amiable, accompanied by occasional hand signs meaning tight collaboration, most of the talk merely confirming our commitments to work closely together. The whole thing lasted only 30 minutes and frankly I don’t recall any specific phrasing that was said. The ceremonial pictures were taken – all with film since it was 1985; mine are in some big box in Downtown Self Storage. As usual in China when its over its over, all shook hands and we left.

Gordon led us to Tsinghua University where he gave a lecture on Moore’s Law. After another meeting or two the Intel party split up. Bill Clemow and I went to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai where I gave a lecture on Open Systems Theory. I recall looking out of the Sheraton windows and seeing block after block of the teeming city streets stacked with large bok choy cabbages sitting outside in the freezing cold. Gordon invited Francis and me to join him and Betty on a trip to Guilin and the Li River but I declined.


Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

I was into high altitude trekking at that point and elected to fly to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo where I climbed Mt Kinabalu which at about 13,500 feet is the tallest mountain in SouthEast Asia. I regret now not going with Gordon and Francis. While I worked closely with Gordon on this and IBM, it would have been special to get to know him more personally. I was invited later to go fishing in Alaska with him but again declined and my good pal John Miner joined him instead. Anyway enough of that.

In 1989, only four years after our meeting with Li Peng, the ten years of loosening the tight reign of the communist totalitarian state began to give way to popular demands for even more freedom. Frustrations with corruption, unequal economic success, and suppression of free criticism resulted in an explosion of protest around the country. Beijing’s Tianaman Square saw tens of thousands and sometimes a million people demonstrating for more freedoms. Riots, protests, and arrests broke out throughout the country. There was no agreement on response in the Politburo Standing Committee of Zhao, Li Peng and 3 others, much less with the “retired” paramount leader Deng, nor the Politburo as a whole. Li Peng was the fiery leader of the “crackdown” set. When Zhao left to take a trip to Korea, Li took charge of the country, coordinated with Deng and began pushing a hardline response.

There was back and forth until in mid-May when hunger strikes which had been underway for weeks prompted response. The party leadership decided this was all a threat to order and their control so ordered a tougher crackdown. Martial law was declared and masses of troops dispatched to Beijing. On June 1 LiPeng issued a formal report to the Politburo calling the protestors terrorists and counterrevolutionaries. This report was the justification for military action. Zhao having been ousted, Li was now the senior member of the Standing Committee and with Deng decided it was time to clear the square with military force. On June 3, outside the


XinHua Gate

Xinhua gate of Zhongnanhai, where we had followed Gordon in for his state meeting, tear gas swept as the army and protesting students clashed. As the day proceeded the order was given by Li Peng to “use any means” and by late evening the army was killing people. The battle continued for the next 3 days as the army gradually exerted control. One estimate is 250,000 military occupied Beijing; there were dozens if not hundreds killed in other cities; the leaders were eventually rounded up and hundreds imprisoned and executed. Amnesty International estimates that from several hundred to one thousand were killed. There is no consensus on the true reach of the crackdown but there is allusion to, country wide, millions being investigated and “tens if not hundreds of thousands” being jailed.

Late in the summer of 1989 I saw Gordon and Betty at a garden party for Ed Gelbach’s 65th birthday.images-1

As I chatted with him I said “Gordon, what did you think about your friend Li Peng and that crackdown in Tiananmen square”.

“Gee”, Gordon said, “and he seemed like such a nice guy”.

POSTSCRIPT:  Oct 18, 2016..speaking of incestuous politics, corrupt dynasty building, and our upcoming election…in flitting around cyberspace today I spied this in the venerable South China Morning Post: “Li Xiaopeng, the governor of coal-rich Shanxi province and the son of former premier Li Peng, is tipped to become the new Communist Party boss of the regulator of top state-owned enterprises, sources in Shanxi and Beijing told the South China Morning Post.”  I was surprised about 30 years ago to realize that progressiveism leads, in some mentally twisted fashion, to powerful national governments which leads in turn to deeply seated nepotism…ugh.

Intel’s IBM PC Design Win

Several people suggested I write up what my view was of this historic design win, in light of the fact that I was Intel’s first “IBM Corporate Account Executive” during the period that the design win decision actually happened, and the design effort got well underway (1978-1980).  I recently published this on the Intel Alumni website.

I was hired in Dec 1977 to be Intel’s first Major Account Executive for Burroughs, GE, and IBM. This was a factory based, customer oriented, marketing job focused in support of the Field Sales Team and coordinating and developing strategies for these accounts corporate wide and Internationally. Burroughs was Intel’s largest revenue account, GE was considered to have possibly the largest growth potential for microprocessors, IBM was viewed as a crap shoot.

In 2Q 78 I was relieved of duty for the other two accounts and assigned full-time to IBM.

Gordon Moore, Intel's IBM Account Sponsor

Gordon Moore, Intel’s IBM Account Sponsor

At that time Bob Noyce was CEO, Gordon Moore was President, Arthur Rock was Chairman, Andy was COO, and Ed Gelbach was the ExecVP.

I was hired by and worked for Gordie Campbell who worked first for Hank O’Hara, Sales VP and then for Jack Carsten, Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing. I held this job from Dec 1977 unit Jan 1980.

The mission of this position was twofold: (a) to be a central repository and focal point for information on how we were doing in penetrating IBM (b) using this information to develop tactics and orchestrate Intel’s resources to win designs throughout IBM. As I put it to Gordie one afternoon at lunch “I want to get so many hooks into that big fish that he’ll never get off the line”. During that period I helped organized and presented in Intel Architecture seminars at all US and European IBM development labs. In that period I was the only Intel exec to meet with the IBM staff at all of those development labs and in all their relevant business segments.

To put the “PC Design Win” in perspective it is important to note that as of December 1977 Intel had had no (zero) direct business orders with IBM.  One of my first tasks was to look through all Intel Disti Salesout reports for 1977 and find out whether we had any business with IBM. I was able to find about $500,000 of business, primarily nonvolatile memory (mostly eproms) and a few development systems, all through disti.

In Jan 1980, as I moved on to the Special Products Division (non-volatile memory), I had the pleasure to review with Gordon Moore, who was our Corporate Sponsor for IBM, the 1980 Volume Sales Agreement worth $100 Million which we had negotiated with Poughkeepsie and which was signed by Ed Gelbach.  In that Agreement we had agreed to $100,000,000 in business minimum for 1980; most of it direct. From less than $1M in business to over $100Million in 36 months.

This VSA was negotiated with the Poughkeepsie Corporate Procurement Group, representing all the IBM sites. It covered everything from single chip micro controllers in typewriters, & copiers, the Caribou Dynamic RAM, loads of EPROMS, development systems, Memory Boards, Multibus Boards,and 808x family for multiple products including the Display Writer word processor and the System 23 Datamaster (5322),which was the first Intel based, what then IBM was calling “unofficially”, “personal computer”.

IBM Boca Raton's Datamaster - precursor to the PC

IBM Boca Raton’s Datamaster – precursor to the PC

(For more on IBM’s use of the term “personal” computer see: IBM Archives: “The next “personal computer” out of the gate was the IBM 5110 Computing System, announced by GSD in January 1978”).

To step back and understand this almost preposterous growth it is important to know there were 2 big and very, very unique memory deals which propelled our commercial ties, before any hint of serious microprocessor uses. These were for memory devices with the mainframe guys represented by Data Products Division (DSD).

– In 1Q78, facing an industry wide shortage of dynamic RAM, IBM decided to “retrofit” all their internal use System 360 & 370 memory and sell it to external customers. That caused them to come to us for our IBM board knock offs to use just for their internal 360’s and 370’s of which I had determined they had about 50. Bob O. (Boe) Evans came to SC 1 main conference room and gave the Exec Staff and a couple us staff guys a lecture as to what he expected. He bragged that his next big Systems release, the 3033 family, was going to have up to 30MB of main memory. He called Jack “Hey Sonny” as he chomped on his big cigar. This was a massive deal valued north of $25M. The guys who deserve credit for closing this were Tor Lund, Jim Saxton, and Gordie Campbell. The field had little involvement and this one was set up by an exec to exec call, I suspect from Erich Bloch, (recipient of the National Technology Medal, head of the Poughkeepsie Development Lab, and VP of the Data Products Division), to Gordon – they were very close friends.

– In 2Q78 the field conveyed a message that IBM wanted to talk to us about doing a stacked 32Kb DRam



which was code named “Caribou”.  By soldering two dual inline packages (DIP) one on top of the other, this would deliver a 64Kb socket stuffer which would help them deal with the continuing shortage.

This would be in the “external customers’” system memory. This was the first time such a high volume and critical device would not be a proprietary IBM design. Ron Whittier was the GM of Intel’s Memory Division and his engineering team made the magical device a reality. Barry Cox and Scott Gibson drove the marketing. The negotiating team which flew into
Poughkeepsie and were locked up in the CR all day with IBM purchasing and finally closed the deal was Ed Gelbach, Jack Carsten, Barry Cox, George Popovich, and me, Gerry. I broke the impasse in mid afternoon by proposing a “strawman” that allowed us to get our price in years 1 and 2 and then drop price below the SLRP cost forecast in years 3 & 4. This essentially put a massive monkey on Whittier’s back for driving the learning curve. Ron performed masterfully and drove significant “way profitable” margin all through 6 years of the program.

What these wins did was give Intel a special status above Motorola and TI who’d had a pretty good business selling nuts and bolts but nothing like these deals. The field saw this opening and blasted through it.

Ed Gelbach, the soul of the Intel Sales Force

Ed Gelbach, the soul of the Intel Sales Force

In those crucial years of 1978 and 79 the key field was the Poughkeepsie sales office. The players who made it happen were:
Bill Gsand, District Sales Manager
George Popovich, FSE
Joel Cohen, FAE,
Bill Clemow, FSE
(supported by Cathy Clemow, admin)

In 1978 and well into 1979, there was essentially no coverage in most of the Development Labs. Hank had given Gsand carte blanc to go call on the labs even in other Intel regions without the local sales teams. Because any volume purchasing would be done in New York, and the general ban against using non-IBM technology, the local teams pretty much didn’t care since their business level was chicken feed. The accepted wisdom in Intel was that any future significant business with IBM would lie with DSD and be driven by their New York mainframe operations, since we had great memory products and insatiable demand and that there was little home for Microprocessors outside of some OEM rack mounted boards for specialty OEM (industrial) solutions. Most thought GE was going to be our biggest customer for processors.

The only real local sales office energy in those design win days were Larry Gast and his FAE John Leediker covering Austin and Mike Barton in Rochester. So George and Joel took off and started calling on the design people at Boca Raton,



Austin, Lexington, Boulder, San Jose, Rochester, Raleigh, upstate New York, and most importantly General Systems Division Headquarters in Atlanta. GSD was critical because they were in new business and were running faster and looser than the traditional mainframe business of IBM’s Data Systems Division.

The technique we used was, starting in 1H78 to send a covert team of Popovich and Cohen to meet quietly with a handful of renegades, for example a design team at the GSD Entry Level Systems Unit in Boca Raton, or their counterparts in the Office Products Division in Austin – introductions were by word of mouth passing interested parties to George and Joel. Then in 2H78, after we had concluded the two big memory deal negotiations, we were invited to conduct two day “open house” seminars in each of the labs. They were positioned as “educational” with Poughkeepsie and IBM refused to give us the attendee lists. Business cards were quietly passed at the breaks.

The factory sent their best presenters which were headed by

Dane Elliot, Master Architecture GURU

Dane Elliot, Master Architecture GURU

Dane Elliot, on logic and software
Bob Greene, on memory
John Beaston, on “chip set” devices

There were other players on parts of the rest of the “Davidow Whole Product” but these 5 people deserve the missionary credit for all the initial big wins:
Bill Gsand, George Popovich, Joel Cohen, Dane Elliot, Bob Greene

If an Intel Medal of Honor were to be given, it would have to go to George. I am sure there would be no argument with this conclusion.

In 3Q 1978 we had our first ever non-undercover seminar at IBM Boca Raton.

George, Dane, Bob, and I were staying on houseboats at a hotel called The Marina Bay Club

the famous Marina Bay Club, Ft. Lauderdale

the famous Marina Bay Club, Ft. Lauderdale

and after a long dinner and partying it was at least 3 am when we turned in. Never the less we were up at 7 and walked into the Development Lab at 0800. I recall Dane Elliot talking 5 aspirins at breakfast – I said “Dane are you allowed to take that many” and he said something like “I don’t know but whatever it does to me it can’t be as bad as my headache”.

There were about 100 people in the audience in the large cafeteria as we started. The agenda was my “Introduction to Intel”, then Dane with the microprocessor and software story, and in the afternoon Bob Greene on memory. I remember Dane kicking off with something like “Well what we’ve got is a basic Von Neumann architecture….” which immediately put the dozens of computer architects in the audience into a peaceful mood as the talk began to move towards registers, bus architectures, instruction sets, High level languages. Dane wow’d them of course, extemporaneously drawing architectures on the white boards and handled all the questions beautifully. Then Bob Greene brought his deep, sonorous tones to memory architecture, the pros and cons of on board or off board memory controllers, and solid state memory solutions.

Bob Greene, the orator of memory

Bob Greene, the orator of memory

It was 7 hours later when we broke up and the audience, and as far as I could tell, was still present and accounted for. The next day Joel Coen and George came back and handled development environments – “Blue Boxes, PLM, and ICE” … yummy.

The thing that most people would never realize was that general purpose, non-proprietary, microprocessors had been in the market for 7 years and it was clear to all that this technology was on an exponential “usefulness ramp”, yet IBM’s design engineers had been proscribed from using it. They were like desert plants yearning for a rain.

Four weeks later George P. asked me to meet him to GSD Headquarters in Atlanta. George (Spike) Beitzel, the President of GSD, had appointed one of his staff officers, Peter Stern, to develop the full proposal on GSD taking “external microprocessors” into their products in an across the board sense, to be presented to IBM Exec Staff. This would end up including OEM products like the Series 1, word processors products, printers and copiers. We met with Peter for several hours, Lou Eggebrecht the design manager for the Intel project in Boca, and Dennis Gibb, the software lead, were there, and the main issue was “continuity of supply”. He brought up the subject of second sources, either with IBM or other companies. He wanted to know if Bob and Gordon would be willing to discuss these issues with their top staff. I took the action item to set up a series of meeting to address the issue. which began to take place in November. Peter said there was as yet no agreement on whether to use an Intel microprocessor in any of the GSD product line but they were seriously interested. He would not discuss the application.

Things then went quiet in Boca. Meanwhile George and Larry Gast had been working on an interest in the 808x in the GSD lab in Austin which ultimately turned out to be the 8086 based Displaywriter word processor and we had another big seminar there in November. And things were hopping in Rochester where the I/O specialists for GSD lived.

The big bang happened the week before Thanksgiving 1978 with a call from Boca to George asking that, if IBM placed an order, not now, but sometime before Christmas, whether Intel could ship 40 MDS Blue Boxes

Intel's Secret to Success - The "complete product"

Intel’s Secret to Success – The “complete product”

all outfitted for 8085 development by the end of the year in order to fit the IBM financial budgeting.

The hitch was that the project’s IBM champions believed couldn’t get internal agreement and approval for a few more weeks. I worked that with our development systems guys and we committed to IBM. The order came through about December 21st which meant it had to ship over the Christmas week. But it did, and the rest is history.

These systems were used for the development of 2 products in Entry Systems in Boca – the Datamaster and the PC. By the end of 1Q79 Larry Gast was getting many more order in Texas most of which were flowing through disti’s. They were upgraded & outfitted for 8086 and 8088. Our theory was that as the Displaywriter development matured through 1979-80 that the development tools moved to Boca and Rochester to work on the PC.

The question which I have never heard authoritatively answered was, while clear that the Datamaster acted as a “Red Herring” to protect the secret of the PC, whether that was a result of happenstance and convenience or if it was intentional from day 1. Only Lou Eggebrecht, Peter Stern and Dennis Gibb can really answer that completely. Philip Estridge might have a good opinion if he were alive today but in fact as he was the Series 1 GM at the time he was not involved in the decisions in 1978 and 79 when the design win happened & work was well underway.

Hope you enjoy these recollections.

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