Dr. Sidney Harman to Retire
Harman carved out his place in audio history in 1953 when he developed the first stereo receiver with Bernard Kardon, combining the then-separate functions of power amplifier, preamp, and radio tuner. He bought his partner's stake in the business in 1956 though Kardon's name remains the latter half of the Harman/Kardon brand name.
Harman International expanded to become one of the largest conglomerates in consumer electronics. It did not just acquire other brand names. It also developed and deepened them with world-class R&D and frequently inspired product design. Under the Harman umbrella are, among others, JBL, Infinity, Mark Levinson, and Lexicon. Revel was born within the Harman fold as a vehicle for speaker designer Kevin Voecks (congratulations to him on his upcoming marriage).
Sidney Harman served as an undersecretary in the U.S. Dept. of Commerce during the Carter administration. During his period of public service, he sold off his CE businesses to Beatrice Foods, reacquiring some of them when he left office.
His philanthropic activities have been significant. He funded the Writer-in-Residence program at his alma mater, the City University of New York's Baruch College. According to the college's website: "From 1970 to 1973, he was president of Friends World College, a worldwide experimental Quaker college. He founded the Program on Technology, Public Policy and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Dr. Harman is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees at the Aspen Institute, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Business Executives for National Security (BENS), trustee emeritus of the Carter Center, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Board of Trustees of Freedom House."
Sidney Harman's wife, Jane Harman (D-CA), is a seven-term member of the House of Representatives.
Harman International is currently an S&P 500 corporation. Last year it came close to being bought out by venture capital firms, but stock-market shudders scuttled the deal. However, it's safe to say the Harman brands will be major fixtures on the CE landscape for decades to come.