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Robert Galvin, long-time CEO of Motorola, dies

The Motorola logo is seen on the companies corporate headquarters in Schaumberg Illinois
The Motorola logo is seen on the companies corporate headquarters in Schaumberg Illinois

(Reuters) - Robert Galvin, 89 -- a long-time chief executive of Motorola, the telecommunications company that created the first cellphone -- has died.

Galvin, who was CEO of Motorola for almost three decades, passed away during the night of Oct 11, according to a statement from his family on Wednesday.

Robert Galvin took the reins of the company in 1959 after the death of his father, Motorola founder Paul Galvin. At that point Motorola had annual revenue of about $290 million, which it derived primarily from North America.

By the time Galvin stepped down as Motorola's chairman in 1990, the company's annual sales had grown to $10.8 billion. He had relinquished the post of CEO in 1986.

It was under his leadership that Motorola expanded in overseas markets and in 1973 unveiled the first prototype cellphone.

Robert's son Chris Galvin became Motorola CEO in 1997, but Robert stayed on the Motorola board until 2001.

Motorola Inc, was split in two in January this year under pressure from investors including Carl Icahn as the company's storied cellphone division had been losing ground to rivals for years. The split formed Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, which is being sold to Google Inc.

Motorola Solutions CEO Greg Brown said Robert Galvin was the CEO that made the biggest impact on Motorola's history.

"He was a global thinker. He saw around corners. He put an extraordinary emphasis on innovation," Brown told Reuters.

Galvin was also a very personable leader and "remembered people's names." "He knew about their families. He knew what they did," Brown said.

(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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