Intel Chief Plunges into Memory
Whitman once boasted about being a very lazy swimmer: My
in floating. I possessed almost unlimited capacity
for floating on my back
I was a first-rate aquatic loafer.
CCNY alum Andrew S. Groves views on natation
are utterly different. The word driven comes immediately
to mind when one thinks of the founder and current chairman
of Intel, who was named Times Man of the Year
in 1997, and the sources of his extraordinary energy and industriousness
emerge clearly in the pages of his new memoir, Swimming
Across, about his childhood in Nazi- and then Soviet-occupied
Hungary, his familys flight to America, and his first
years in New York City.
When his alma mater honored him in 1998, Grove reminisced
poignantly about his experience on the CCNY campus (reported
in the Fall 1998 issue of CM), and Swimming Across
fills out one of the more remarkable success stories in the
annals of immigration to New York City. In its pages Grovewho
was then Andris Grofdescribes his bout with scarlet
fever when a four-year-old, his Jewish familys refuge
from Nazis with a Christian family on the outskirts of Budapest,
and recalls cowering in cellars when Soviet bombs were falling.
For Groves family the brutal suppression of the 1956
uprising was the final straw.
The last chapter leaves him just before his three-and-a-half-year
climb to first in his graduating class at City College, with
a degree in chemical engineering. One amusing anecdote from
this time concerns his change of name, which, to his dismay,
was pronounced Gruff (without the long o in Hungarian):
I started doodling with different spellings. The most
obvious thing to do was stick an e after my name.
G-r-o-f-e. I showed this to a classmate and asked him how
he would pronounce it. He said, Oh, Gro-fay, like the
composer of The Grand Canyon suite. I went back to the
He then tried another version: I wrote G-r-o-v-e. I
took it back to the same boy. He said, Oh, thats
how you say it. Grove. It was a serviceable rendition
of how G-r-o-f was pronounced in Hungarian and was certainly
a lot closer than Gruff.
In a moving epilogue, Grove notes that he has never returned
to Hungary but also brings us up to date on the many people
who figured in his early life. Lest there be any doubt that
Grove is inclined to loaf, his last paragraph is just four
words long: I am still swimming.