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|Memories of VideoDisc - Who's Who in VideoDisc|
Robert Frederick graduated from DePauw University in 1948 with a degree in economics and immediately joined General Electric as a management trainee. At GE he worked his way up in a number of divisions including electric houseware, consumer electronics, and major appliances until becoming Executive Vice President of International Operations. In 1982, RCA Chairman Thornton Bradshaw, who viewed himself to some degree as an interim CEO, was looking for a successor at RCA. He employed the services of the Heidrick & Struggles executive placement firm, a somewhat odd choice, as they had earlier placed Maurice Valente in the RCA presidency, a selection that didn't work out at all. During the Summer of 1982, the firm selected Robert Frederick as the best possible candidate for RCA President.
Robert Frederick was just one of many GE executives in line for Jack Welch's position at the top, so he jumped at the chance for the RCA presidency, and came on board in September 1982. Robert Frederick was an apparent supporter of the VideoDisc program, touring the disc manufacturing plant, and stating in March 1983 that "under no forseeable circumstances" would RCA abandon VideoDiscs. "Clearly, the business has taken a turn upward ... We will push ahead." But on April 4, 1984 the corporation did announce the end of player production, a decision made by the RCA Board of Directors of which Robert Frederick was a member.
In November 1985, Thornton Bradshaw and Jack Welch began discussions regarding a merger between RCA and GE, and the decision to do so was announced on December 12, 1985. Robert Frederick was unenthusiastic about this, as having abandoned GE in favor of RCA, his position was tenuous. But he played no role in the final decision to merge. He left GE/RCA when the merger was finalized on June 9, 1986. In 2001, Robert Frederick received an honorary doctorate from his alma mater, DePauw University.
See Robert Frederick on slide 499 from Memories of VideoDisc touring the Rockville Road plant.
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