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Frank Greene, Silicon Valley technology pioneer, dies at 71

March 5, 2010

by Hattie Carwell

Frank Greene, left, and Roy Clay were interviewed in the Palo Alto City Council chambers on Jan. 23, 2009. They were honored as two of the 50 most influential Black technologists in Silicon Valley. – Photo: Veronica Weber, Palo Alto Online
Frank S. Greene, who removed countless barriers for Blacks in technology and business and expanded opportunities in those fields for young people, died at age 71 unexpectedly the day after Christmas 2009. A “Celebration of the Remarkable Life and Work of Frank S. Greene Jr., Ph.D.,” will be held Saturday, March 6. The ceremony begins at 1:30 at Santa Clara University Mission Church, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, and will be followed by a reception at 2:30 in the Williman Room of Benson Memorial Center.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee is expected to speak, as will Fr. Paul Locatelli, S.J., chancellor of Santa Clara University; Albert Dotson Jr., Esq., national chairman of 100 Black Men of America; William Kindricks, board member of 100 Black Men of Silicon Valley; Debra Watkins, executive director, California Alliance of African American Educators; James Hill III of the Frank Greene Scholars Program; Robert Johnson, Sire Archon, Gamma Chi Boule; Jennifer Andaluz, senior fellow, American Leadership Forum, Silicon Valley; Howard Gray, Greene’s long time squash partner; Arthur J. Greene, M.D.,Greene’s brother; and Frank S. Greene III, his son. Hugh Burroughs will serve as master of ceremonies.

Greene was a co-founder in 1993 and general partner of NewVista Capital. The firm has funded over 26 start-up information technology companies founded and headed by people of color and women. He was the founding CEO of Technology Development and ZeroOne, both software companies. Technology Development Corp. went public in 1985, and ZeroOne Systems Inc. was sold to Sterling Software.

He earned his doctorate in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University. He was assistant chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford University in the late 1960s. He taught electrical engineering and computer science at five universities: Howard, Santa Clara, Stanford, Northwestern and Washington University at St. Louis.

Fifth grader Redeat Adane bravely explained her science project to the judges during the Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Science Fair held at Cypress Semiconductor Jan. 30, 2010. “Greene,” wrote the San Jose Mercury News, “was a Silicon Valley engineer and visionary who worked hard to get African-American students interested in science and technology, and this year’s eighth annual fair was the continuation of the remarkable legacy Greene left when he died the day after Christmas. The Dr. Frank S. Greene Scholars Program serves as an incubator to innovation.” – Photo: Pauline Lubens, Mercury News
He earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Washington University, an M.S. from Purdue and a Ph.D., also in electrical engineering, from Santa Clara University. He was president of the GO-Positive educational foundation. The GO-Positive Foundation offers leadership programs with “core positive values” for high school and college students. He is the author of “Leadership in the NOW: Power and Endurance” and “Leadership in the NOW: Success Guide.”

Greene joined the ranks of other Silicon Valley giants like Robert Noyce, David Packard, William Hewlett and the Varian brothers as one of 63 inductees into the Silicon Valley Engineering Hall of Fame, conferred by the Silicon Valley Engineering Council.

Greene said his technology career grew out of being in the right place at the right time. He developed high-speed semiconductor computer-memory systems at Fairchild Semiconductor Research and Development Labs in the 1960s. Greene held the patent for the integrated circuit that made Fairchild a semiconductor leader in the late 1960s.

“Success in life is not about ‘me’ but about what you can do to help others,” he told the Palo Alto Weekly earlier this year when he was honored as one of the 50 most important African-Americans in technology in an exhibit at Palo Alto City Hall. Greene grew up in the highly segregated St. Louis of the 1950s, where “making it through life was a civil-rights activity in itself,” he said.

Hattie Carwell is senior scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy and can be reached through Facebook. The Bay View contributed to this story.

4 thoughts on “Frank Greene, Silicon Valley technology pioneer, dies at 71

  1. redeat

    hey im redeeat and yes franks sudden death was a tradic but i still have him in my heart
    ,
    redeat
    see me at top

    Reply
  2. redeat

    hello this is redeat again i just wanted to say ,today i have sorrow in my heart for the death of frank greene,but i have him in my heart once again!
    redeat

    Reply

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