The Hague, The Netherlands — Frederik “Frits” Philips, who was credited with building his family’s light bulb business into global electronics powerhouse Royal Philips Electronics, died Monday of pneumonia and complications following a fall last week. He was 100.
Philips, an industrial engineer by training, joined the company at age 25 and would later serve as its president from 1961 to 1971. During his tenure, he presided over the company’s expansion into Asia and the Americas, the development of manufacturing processes for the production of integrated circuits, and the creation of such CE innovations as the compact audio cassette.
Philips was also a beloved figure in his native Netherlands for his efforts at fighting poverty and unemployment during the Great Depression, his role in transforming the country into an industrial power and his early leadership on environmental issues. In 1996, he received Israel’s Yad Vashem medal for saving hundreds of Jewish concentration camp prisoners during World War II, and his 100th birthday celebration was televised nationally last April.
Philips stepped down as president in 1971 but continued as a member of the company’s advisory board until 1977.