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Elmer Engstrom became President of RCA in 1961, serving in that post during the formative 1964-65 years of the CED system. He was succeeded as RCA President by Robert Sarnoff.
Dr. Elmer W. Engstrom, 83, a former President of RCA and head of the corporation's research laboratories in Princeton, N.J., died on October 30, 1984, after a long illness. Dr. Engstrom retired from RCA in 1969, following a 39-year career with the company.
He served as President of RCA from 1961 to 1965. In the ensuing two years he was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board and Chief Executive Officer. He relinquished the latter title in 1968, but remained as Chairman of the Executive Committee until his retirement.
During the early years of his retirement, Dr. Engstrom served as a Consultant to RCA and remained a member of its Board of Directors until 1971. Prior to his election as President of RCA, he had been a Senior Executive Vice President of the Corporation for six years.
Dr. Engstrom advanced to the top levels of responsibility within RCA from a background of research, engineering, and technical management. He was graduated in 1923 from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Science degree In Electrical Engineering. Upon graduation. he joined the General Electric Company and was assigned to engineering development work on radio transmitting and receivIng equipment in Schenectady, N.Y. In 1930, the radio and engineering activities of G.E. were transferred to RCA, and Dr. Engstrom joined the Corporation as Division Engineer in charge of Photophone sound motion picture apparatus. Soon afterward, he assumed engineering responsibilities for RCA's broadcast receiver development and production.
Beginning in the early 1930's Dr Engstrom supervised RCA's program of TV research and development. He brought to the project the concept of television as a complete system, instituting one of the early large-scale examples of the systems engineering concept that is now standard in major technical programs. In the postwar years, as head of RCA Laboratories, he applied the same concept in directing the development program for the all-electronic, compatible color television system.
In 1942, when all the research activities of RCA were brought together in Princeton, N.J., Dr. Engstrom became Director of General Research. He held a series of progressively higher level positions, culminating in his appointment in 1955 as Senior Executive Vice President. He served in that capacity until he became President of RCA in 1961.
During World War II, Dr, Engstrom was responsible for research in the fields of radar, radio, airborne electronics, television and acoustics. He was awarded honorary degrees by 18 colleges and universities, and also received numerous industry awards and medals. In 1966 he was the recipient of the Founders Award of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for "leadership in management and integration of research and development programs and for his foresighted application of systems engineering concept in bringing television to the public."
- RCA 1984 Company Eulogy
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