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Sidney Harman Retiring From Harman International

Washington — Harman International founder Dr. Sidney Harman, whose audio-industry career dates to 1953 with the launch of the first stereo receiver, will retire as chairman on July 1 and from the company’s board on Dec. 3.

Harman, 89, will be succeeded by Dinesh C. Paliwal, who will assume the dual position of chairman/CEO on July 1, the start of the company’s fiscal year. Paliwal has been president, CEO and vice chairman since joining the company in July 2007. The president’s position will not be filled, although Paliwal will function as president, a spokesman said.

Harman will become chairman emeritus and remain “a source of counsel,” the spokesman added.

Harman began his audio career 55 years ago in 1953 when he and partner Bernard Kardon developed the world’s first stereo receiver. Harman bought out his partner in 1956 and then expanded Harman Kardon into an audio powerhouse, according to a biography written by the Consumer Electronics Industry Hall of Fame. In the 1970s, Harman was appointed undersecretary of the Department of Commerce during the Carter administration.

When Harman took office in 1976, he sold his company to conglomerate Beatrice Foods to avoid a conflict of interest. When he left government in 1980, he created Harman International Industries by reacquiring a number of businesses he sold to Beatrice. They included JBL, Harman Kardon, Infinity and Epicure loudspeakers. Harman International later expanded to the professional audio market with such brands as JBL Professional, UREI, Soundcraft, Allen & Heath, Studer, DOD, Lexicon, AKG, BSS, Orban, DBX, Quested and Turbosound. The company also became a powerhouse in OEM sound systems and electronics sold to automakers.