When I first started at TI, my boss Turner Hasty, introduced me to Jack Kilby, roaming the quarter-mile long hallway of the “semiconductor” building at the Dallas headquarters of Texas Instruments. He was working on a crazy idea to “grow” solar cells on flexible rolls, like paper is made. It never succeeded. Thirty years later, Solyndra has raised $1B to do something conceptionally similar.
Cecil Green, in his private office in downtown Dallas. He founded TI the year I was born, and although retired from TI, he took time from his philanthropy to entertain new hires and pass on some of the TI’s history.
Carver Mead. He was an early investor and board member of Actel Corp in the late 1980’s . He used to drop by and chat up the staff. He is a 5th generation Californian, and a pioneer in GaAs, Design Automation, Neural Networks, Vision and Imaging. His former students founded dozens of companies in these areas.
Buddy Melges. The only sailor to win the Mallory Cup three times in a row in his teen’s, he was one of America’s greatest sailors. I purchased an M-2o sailboat boat from him in 1980. I picked it up at his factory in Zenda, WI. He lived in a gabled home on the lake with a backyard full of sailboats and ice-boats. In the sitting room were all of his trophies. His 1972 Olympic Gold medal in the Soling Class was lying on the coffee table like a gigantic glass coaster. World Championship plaques and cups adorned the walls. He later raced the America’s Cup Yacht, “Heart of America”, but his heart was in small boats. Today, his sons run the boatworks and the Melges 24 is one of the hottest boats on the racing circuit. I have a signed a copy of his book Sailing Smart. While the topic was sailing, the principles could be applied to any desired success in life.
Ted Turner. Before he came famous for starting 24/7 news with CNN, a billionaire from Time-Life’s acquisition of Turner Networks, and a husband of Jane Fonda, he was a sailor. First in small boats, then the America’s cup and finally Ocean racing. After he won the 1977 America’s cup, he and Gary Jobson campaigned a six-meter boat around the country for charity. They brought the boat to the Fort Worth Boat Club where I purchased a signed copy of their book on match racing.
For the last few years Ted Turner has become a conservationist rivaling Teddy Roosevelt – buying vast sections of the American West (and South American rangeland) to preserve it from development.
PS Dr. Turner E. Hasty was a pioneer R&D manager at TI, and a personal mentor. He left TI to found Semitech with Charles Spork and Robert Noyce. He wasn’t famous because he didn’t seek fame, but he certainly deserved it.