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Paul Cook, former SRI board member and founder of SRI spin-out Raychem, Passes at 96

December 18, 2020

Paul Cook, an early researcher and founder of one of SRI International’s first spin-outs, Raychem, has died at 96. He was a renowned Silicon Valley leader. Among Mr. Cook’s many achievements was the founding of Raychem Corporation (now part of TE Connectivity), which pioneered an industry that today serves a multi-billion-dollar market.

Mr. Cook, a graduate of MIT, joined SRI as its 48th employee in 1948. He was a chemical engineer. He later headed SRI’s Radiation Chemistry Laboratory, where he saw potential in the use of high-energy electrons to alter the molecular structure of polymers. Mr. Cook also served on SRI’s Board of Directors for nine years, six of those as chairman.

In 1957, Mr. Cook founded Raychem, a spin-out of SRI International with an original focus on wire and cable that used radiation cross-linked polymer insulation targeted for military and aerospace applications. Raychem became a pioneer in commercial applications for radiochemistry.

After retiring from Raychem, Mr. Cook continued to launch companies including CellNet Data Systems, DIVA and Promptu, a provider of voice recognition-based search and navigation services for mobile phones. Read more about Mr. Cook and Raychem in his 1990 Harvard Business Review feature.

Throughout his career, Mr. Cook has received several awards for his impact on society and innovation, including SRI’s Weldon B. “Hoot” Gibson Achievement Award, the Winthrop-Sears Medal, the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame Award, and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation awarded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Paul Cook was truly one of Silicon Valley’s remarkable leaders who helped steer the world of innovation today.

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