Los Angeles Business Journal

Eric Lidow, Co-Founder of International Rectifier, Dies at 100

By Natalie Jarvey Monday, January 21, 2013
Photo courtesy of International Rectifier

Photo courtesy of International Rectifier

Eric Lidow, the co-founder and former chairman of El Segundo semiconductor manufacturer International Rectifier died Friday, according to the company. He was 100.

Lidow, who founded International Rectifier with his father, Leon, in 1947, served as chief executive and chairman of the company until 1995, when he assumed the position of executive chairman. He retired from the company in 2008.

Under Lidow’s leadership, International Rectifier grew from a startup that developed photoelectric cells into an international provider of analog, digital and mixed signal chips that convert electricity into power for electronics, computers, appliance and cars.

Today the company has nearly 5,000 employees and a market cap of $1.32 billion.

“Eric was a highly respected pioneer in the power semiconductor industry,” IR Chief Executive Oleg Khaykin said in a statement. “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.”

Lidow was born to a Jewish family in the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, in 1912 when it was under Russian control. He later moved to Berlin to study engineering.

While in Berlin, Lidow helped a number of Jews escape Nazi Germany before the war. After graduating with a master’s degree from the Technical University of Berlin in 1937, he immigrated to New York.

Lidow moved to Los Angeles in 1939 and started his first semiconductor company, Selenium Corp. of America. The company grew to 200 employees before Lidow sold it in 1946. Lidow and his father, a Holocaust survivor who had immigrated to the United States, then started International Rectifier.

They kept the business in the family when, in 1977, Lidow’s son, Alexander, began work for the company. When Eric Lidow stepped down from the position, the younger Lidow became chief executive in 1995, though he stepped down in 2007 after an independent audit committee discovered irregular accounting activities that cost the company more than $100 million.

Besides Alexander, Lidow is survived by two other sons, Alan and Derek; a daughter, Melodie, and nine grandchildren.