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|Memories of VideoDisc - Who's Who in VideoDisc|
Edgar Griffiths graduated from Saint Joseph's University in 1943. He joined RCA in 1948 as a credit analyst in the Service Company and rose through the ranks to RCA Service Company President in 1968 following the promotion of Anthony Conrad to RCA corporate headquarters. On September 1, 1971, Griffiths joined Conrad at Corporate, having been elected Executive Vice President, Services. He was elected to the RCA Board of Directors in June 1972. He assumed the additional role of President, RCA Electronics and Diversified Businesses in September 1975. Following Anthony Conrad's surprise ouster as a Director, CEO, and RCA President in September 1976, Edgar Griffiths became President and CEO of RCA Corporation. On January 1, 1980 he became Chairman of the Board when Maurice Valente was brought in to assume the role of President and Chief Operating Officer. But Valente was deposed after just six months, at which time an "Office of the Chairman" was established as a replacement, consisting of five Executive Vice Presidents - George Fuchs, William Hittinger, Julius Koppelman, Roy Pollack, and Frank Olson.
One of Edgar Griffiths first actions as head of RCA was to bring the "Nipper" trademark back to the forefront, the terrier mutt having been neglected during Robert Sarnoff's tenure. In contrast to earlier RCA CEO's, Griffiths was somewhat aloof and had an accountant's mentality, cutting any program that failed to be profitable from quarter to quarter. At Corporate he was known as "The Red Queen" in reference to the penchant of the Alice In Wonderland character to shout "Off with his head!" This characteristic didn't bode well for a long-term project like VideoDisc, which Griffiths put in a holding pattern while some market surveys were conducted. He abruptly changed his mind in January 1979, stating that RCA would rush VideoDisc to market as quickly as possible. The speculated reason for this about face is that the decision was made in response to a cover article in the December 31, 1978 issue of Fortune, that although mostly favorable, portrayed Griffiths as being overly cautious in his approach to technology-based products like VideoDisc.
Griffiths remained at the RCA helm during the two years of VideoDisc development that followed, his most notable action being the acquisition of CIT Financial. But controversy swirled around him following management problems at the corporation including the rather unsavory dismissals of RCA President Maurice Valente and NBC Chairwoman Jane Pfeiffer. The RCA Board decided to replace him while keeping him under contract with a five-year $250,000/year deal put forth by board member Donald Smiley. Edgar Griffiths announced his departure on January 24, 1981 to be effective July 1, 1981. His replacement as President was fellow Board member Thornton Bradshaw who until then was President of the Atlantic Richfield Company. After leaving the company, Griffiths retired in Pennsylvania, where he passed away on November 26, 1998 at the age of 77.
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