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Frank Cary, 67; IBM Head Instrumental in Push to Develop PCs

January 05, 2006|From Bloomberg News

Frank Cary, who helped drive the development of the personal computer as head of International Business Machines Corp. in the 1970s, died Monday in his sleep in his home in Darien, Conn., according to his son, Bryan. He was 67.

Cary was chief executive officer of Armonk, New York-based IBM from 1973 to 1981, and chairman from 1973 to 1983, according to IBM's website. He most recently was a director at companies including printer maker Lexmark International Inc. and Lincare Holdings Inc., which provides patient therapy in the home.

Cary retired at 60, complying with IBM's then-policy requiring key executives to give up their posts to younger managers. In a 1980 profile, the New York Times described Cary as a "healthy and energetic member" of IBM, whose hobbies included skiing, tennis and golf.

During Cary's tenure, IBM introduced a 50-pound "portable" computer, the Selectric typewriter and a so-called Winchester hard drive, which stored twice the amount of information as previous hard drives. Cary left the CEO post the same year IBM introduced the first personal computer.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday January 10, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 23 words Type of Material: Correction
Cary obituary -- An obituary of former IBM executive Frank Cary in Thursday's California section reported that he was 67. He was 85.

IBM's traditionally staid culture showed signs of loosening under Cary, according to the New York Times profile. Employees started wearing blue shirts, rather than the standard white, and men acquired mustaches and beards.

He also steered the company around its legal troubles with the Justice Department, which sued the company on antitrust grounds. The government eventually dropped the suit.

IBM more than doubled its sales and profit during Cary's time as CEO. Even so, Cary told the New York Times in 1980 that he was disappointed that the stock price did not approach the valuations it had had under former CEO Thomas Watson.

In addition to his son Bryan, Cary is survived by two other sons, a daughter, his wife and 12 grandchildren.

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