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Cellular Pioneer Robert Galvin Dies At 89

10/13/2011 10:03:04 AM Eastern
Chicago - Cellular pioneer Robert W. Galvin, former Motorola chairman and CEO, died at age 89.

Robert Galvin
Galvin took the reins at Motorola in 1959 from his father, Paul, and turned the company into a major cellular player that was instrumental in the creation of the nation's cellular phone system. Under his tenure, Motorola sales grew from $290 million to $10.8 billion by the time he retired as chairman in 1990, Motorola Mobility said.

He was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame in 2006.

Under Galvin, Motorola built the first prototype cellular demonstration system in Washington D.C. in 1971 and demonstrated the first hand-held cell phone prototype, the DynaTAC, in 1973, his family said. The DynaTAC demonstration helped convince the federal government to include portable cellphones in the as-yet unfinished standards for the nation's first cellular systems.

Also during Galvin's 29-year tenure, Motorola in 1983 enabled the first commercial cell phone call, which was made on a portable Motorola DynaTAC phone over the Ameritech network in Chicago. In 1996, the company introduced the MicroTAC, the industry's first compact cell phone. And in 1996, when Galvin was on Motorola's board, the company manufactured the first pocket-sized "flip phone," the StarTAC, his family said.

Motorola Mobility, the cellphone company that Galvin left behind, said Galvin's "commitment to innovation has remained a core value at Motorola Mobility, and his contributions have left a lasting mark on both the Motorola Mobility portfolio and the entire cell phone industry.

Added Motorola Mobility chairman/CEO Sanjay Jha, "On October 11, we lost a transformative leader and visionary. We will continue to honor Bob Galvin's legacy here at Motorola Mobility. He was committed to innovation, and was responsible for guiding Motorola through the creation of the global cellular telephone industry."

Galvin was CEO from 1959 to 1988 and was chairman through 1990. He retired from the board of directors in 2001.

Under Galvin, Motorola became a major player in semiconductor, paging, two-way radio, space and military communication, and automotive embedded control technologies. The company also sold TVs for a time.

Motorola's first hit product was the first practical mass-produced car radio in 1930. The radio carried the Motorola brand, but the company's name at the time was the Galvin Manufacturing Co. The model 5T71 radio sold for between $110 and $130 and could be installed in most popular automobiles. It was designed to withstand the vibrations and bumps encountered when a car is driven and eliminate interference from a car's engine and electrical system.

One of Motorola's successor companies, publicly owned Motorola Mobility, will become a part of Google under a proposed acquisition. A separate publicly owned Motorola Solutions sells two-way radios and other commercial and business equipment.
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