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In memoriam: Dr Sidney Harman

An icon passes: Dr Sidney Harman, the co-founder of the global audio and entertainment electronics giant Harman, has died at the age of 92. During the course of a highly eventful life, he had a major impact in the worlds of business, education, philanthrophy and politics.

An icon passes: Dr Sidney Harman, the co-founder of the global audio and entertainment electronics giant Harman (pictured here during the 1950s), has died at the age of 92.

While best-known to audio professionals as the co-creator and chairman emeritus of Harman International, Harman had a diverse business career that also encompassed interests in other areas of industry and, most recently, publishing as the owner of Newsweek magazine.

But it is with Harman International that he will always be most closely associated. The group of businesses he and Bernard Kardon initiated with Harman/Kardon in 1953 has gone on to become a world leader in consumer and pro-audio, with a brand portfolio in the latter that includes AKG Acoustics, Crown International, JBL, Soundcraft and Studer.

Harman remained at the heart of the Harman empire until 2008, when he was succeeded by Dinesh Paliwal as chairman & CEO. But as his high profile of acquisition of Newsweek last August demonstrated, his passion for business remained undiminished.

A noted philanthropist, Harman was also involved in many educational capacities, including as an active member of the Program on Technology, Public Policy and Human Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Harman also moved in prominent political circles: he served as US under-secretary of commerce for two years during the Jimmy Carter administration, while his wife was Jane Harman, a long-serving Democratic member of Congress for California.

Responding to Dr Sidney Harman’s passing on 12 April, Dinesh Paliwal commented: “His legacy of leading-edge innovation and premium quality will continue to live on at Harman and I am grateful to Dr. Harman for the trust he placed in the company’s management to carry on his legacy.”

The company added that Harman would be ‘remembered for his great charm, his curiosity, his philanthropic and public service interests, and his genuine kindness to employees and customers alike.’