Andy Grove

Andy Grove, Ex-Intel CEO, photographed in 1991.

Ann E. Yow-Dyson/Getty Images

Andy Grove, the former Intel Corp. chief executive whose youth under Nazi occupation and escape from the Iron Curtain inspired an "only the paranoid survive" management philosophy that saved the chip maker from financial ruin in the 1980s, has died. He was 79.

Intel said Grove died on Monday. It did not specify a cause of death.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of former Intel Chairman and CEO Andy Grove,” said Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a release. “Andy made the impossible happen, time and again, and inspired generations of technologists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.”

Grove, who was instrumental in building Intel into the world's largest chip company during his 37-year career there, had suffered from Parkinson's disease. He also suffered from prostate cancer in the mid 1990s.

He was a mercurial but visionary leader who helped position Intel's microprocessors as the central technology inside personal computers. Grove became Intel’s President in 1979 and CEO in 1987. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1997 to 2005.

In the release, Intel said Grove played a critical role in the decision to move the company's focus from memory chips to microprocessors and led the firm’s transformation into a widely recognized consumer brand. Under his leadership, Intel produced the chips that helped usher in the PC era.

Intel created the world's first commercial microprocessor in 1971, but the company's primary focus was memory chips for mainframe computers. That was until the personal computer was invented and a new use for Intel's microprocessors emerged.

Grove's leadership of that transition affirmed his status as a key figure in the digital revolution and an icon of business leadership, whose maneuvers have been studied and dissected in management classes around the world.

Social media was quick to react to the news on Monday, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who called Grove "one of the giants of the technology world."