Posted on 01 July 2019

Interview on Technology and Progress

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with Eric Lidow, Chairman of the Board and founder of International Rectifier

By Bodo Arlt, Editor BPS


Bodo Arlt: What are your feelings about today’s business culture?

Eric Lidow: Today, due to the existence of the Internet, most businesses start operating internationally and are able to call themselves international. We are a pioneer and one of the earliest examples of an international business from our very beginning.

Bodo Arlt: I know from many discussions that you started as an engineer and studied in Berlin. If you were able to start again as a young man, would you start again in engineering?

Eric Lidow: I still believe that electronics engineering is vital but I think if I started today I may focus on bioengineering. I’m fascinated by DNA and stem cell research and feel there is synergy between biotechnology and electronics.

Bodo Arlt: From our first meeting I remember that at lunchtime all the others with us talked about business. I had my Leica Camera with me to take photos. You and I had a chat about old Leica cameras and their value in life. The film material now is nearly obsolete. Most people use digital cameras. What do you think about these drastic changes in photography?

Eric Lidow: This is a fine example of progress and how technology will always lead a market.

Bodo Arlt: Once you said the best time in your life was between 50 and 70. When we first met I was too young to believe it. Now I am 53 and able to agree. Now I need to know what is between 70 and 90 and what will the ongoing future bring to us?

Eric Lidow: There is a longer life span expectation today and if this is combined with a healthy lifestyle men are in their prime in their fifties and can enjoy a high quality of life for a longer period.

Bodo Arlt: To build up a company it needs some passion and vision. If you had to start again, what would be different from today’s perspective?

Eric Lidow: Today’s entrepreneurs require extensive financial support to engage in a technology start up. It’s harder these days to start with $500 and a good idea.

Bodo Arlt: I know you enjoy your work and you are in your office every day. Is this something that keeps you young?

Eric Lidow: I recently saw a discussion on a Chinese television channel about the definition of happiness and according to that discussion by Confucius experts, happiness is when you recognize and are aware of your own abilities and are able to use them to their fullest extent.

Bodo Arlt: I know your son Alex is the CEO of the company. You handed over responsibility early so that continuity is given. What is your message to other founders that cannot release their dominance in leadership to the next generation?

Eric Lidow: The company founders tend to impart themselves and establish the culture and originate processes in order for the company to continue to grow. Growth and shareholder value determine the best leadership team.

Bodo Arlt: What was your best idea in life?

Eric Lidow: To make a positive contribution to society. Over the years, the company’s mission has evolved to one of saving energy. Saving energy is the one true way we can improve the global standard of living and reduce dependence on imported fuels and the effects of global warming. So we are focused on developing power management technologies that contribute in meaningful ways to our improved standard of living, enabling energy efficiency advancements in an array of products from our cars to appliances and computers.

Bodo Arlt: What would be your wish if you could influence politics?

Eric Lidow: To harness today’s technology in order to save our environment.

Bodo Arlt: What innovation between 1900 and 2000 was the most important one?

Eric Lidow: By far the biggest impact has been the development of the Internet.

Bodo Arlt: As a young man you travelled by boat in the Baltic and had Kiel, my place of birth, as a destination to get away from the upcoming war in Europe. War is still a problem in the world. From that time in the past we had Vietnam and now Iraq. What would be your recommendation to the world to come to peace?

Eric Lidow: Firstly, we should drive towards a regulated global standard that ensures the highest standards in education and secondly, I feel we need a Global Economical Organisation to represent the global economy.

Bodo Arlt: I am looking forward to my next trip to California to see you and talk and harvest from your wisdom of age. Let me know what I should focus on?

Eric Lidow: Concentrate on the new technological advances and optimise the attention to the key power management challenges for energy efficiency.

Bodo Arlt: Thank you, Mr. Lidow, for your time. We look forward to a successful future for power electronics.

Eric Lidow: Thanks Bodo.


Eric Lidow

Eric Lidow

Chairman of the Board

Eric Lidow, Chairman of the Board and founder of the Company, has been a director since its inception in 1947, and was Chief Executive Officer until March 1995. Mr. Lidow continues as Chairman of the Board and also serves as Chairman of the Company’s Executive Committee. Before the formation of International Rectifier, Mr. Lidow was co-founder and General Manager of Selenium Corporation of America which was established in 1940. In 1944, Selenium Corp. was acquired by Sperry Corporation and Eric Lidow continued as Vice President of Engineering until 1947. Mr. Lidow was born in Vilnius, Lithuania, and graduated in 1937 from the Technical University of Berlin with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He immigrated to the U.S. from Germany in 1937. He is a Life Associate of Caltech, a Life Member of IEEE, and an Honorary Life Trustee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from Technion.



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