Michael L. Hackworth ’63, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist who had the IMAX theater at the Tech Museum of Innovation named after him, has died at 71.
Surrounded by his family, Hackworth passed away at his home in Saratoga on Saturday, according to his daughters.
He was a 40-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, working for Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and Signetics. His greatest claim to fame was as a co-founder in 1985 of Cirrus Logic, a supplier of high-precision analog and digital signal processing components for audio and energy markets. He served in several roles there, including CEO and chairman of the board. He also served on several private high-tech company boards and coached entrepreneurs in their company formation phases.
Hackworth was a strong believer in hard work, community service and ethics, taking a leadership role in several local nonprofits, including the Tech Museum, San Jose Ballet Silicon Valley, the San Jose Symphony, the Montalvo Arts Center, the Santa Clara County Children’s Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Silicon Valley Charity Ball. He also served on many boards, including the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He also created the Hackworth Fellowships at Santa Clara University 10 years ago.
"He will be remembered as living his guiding principles to their fullest: Dream big, work hard and do the right thing," his family said in a written statement.
Born in San Mateo, he spent the first five years of his life in Atwood, Kan. He had fond memories of the family farm and relatives there who supported him and his mother while his father served in World War II, according to the family’s statement. Hackworth graduated from Serra High School and Santa Clara University with a degree in electrical engineering. He began his career in high school in 1957 working part time for a passive component startup, Ultronix, serving the instrumentation and aerospace industries, and continued with them until several years out of college.
Ernst & Young recognized his management acumen in 1990 when he was named Semiconductor Entrepreneur of the Year. He was honored again as a nominee for this recognition in 1994. In 2001, he was the recipient of the third annual Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award presented by the Fabless Semiconductor Association.
Survivors include brother Arthur A. Hackworth J.D. ’73, widow Joan D. Hackworth (honorary degree in ’99), and daughter Lauren H. Petersen ’87.