In addition to his many achievements in the electronics industry, J. Erik Jonsson was well known as a philanthropist, with schools, libraries, and institutions named after him. He was also once the Mayor of Dallas, and helped to rebuild its confidence following the assassination of President Kennedy. He led the effort to build the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, which at its opening in 1973 was the largest in the world.

Born in 1901, Erik graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1922 and purchased Geophysical Service Inc. (GSI) along with Cecil H. Green, Eugene McDermott, and H. Bates Peacock. The group founded Texas Instruments (TI) in 1945. It was Erik’s decision to involve the company in military electronics. This stark departure from GSI’s core business in oil and gas exploration was the primary reason for TI’s creation.

He spearheaded TI’s electronics efforts, and was responsible for his company’s success in creating the first commercial transistor, licensing Bell Lab’s patent on the core technology. He also bought the first 100 shares of his corporation’s stock in 1953 for $5.25 each, and his estate still has ownership of the shares derived from that first purchase. (Considering the price today, that’s a nifty profit, even with inflation.) He died in 1994.

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