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Frey, Donald N. (Donald Nelson), 1923-2010

 Person

Dates

  • Existence: 1923 - 2010

Donald Nelson Frey was born on March 13, 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where his father was chief metallurgist for a John Deere plant. He attended Michigan State University for two years, but left to serve in the Army during World War II. After his return, he earned bachelor's (1947), master's (1949) and doctoral (1950) degrees in metallurgy from the University of Michigan.

After working briefly as an Assistant Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan, Frey joined Ford Motor Company in 1951 as a manager in the Metallurgical Department, eventually becoming a Product Planning Manager of the Ford Division in 1961. In 1962, working closely with the Ford Division's general manager, Lee Iacocca, Frey conceived the prototype for the Mustang, the affordably priced "pony car" made available by the Ford Motor Company in the mid-1960s. The Mustang was introduced at the New York World's Fair in 1964. More than a million Mustangs were sold within two years.

Stating differences with Iacocca, Frey left Ford in 1968 to become president of the General Cable Corporation. In 1971 he joined Bell & Howell as the Chief Executive Officer, a position he would hold until joining Northwestern University in 1988. At Bell & Howell, Frey developed CD-ROM database systems and built the first integrated manufacturing plant in the United States for both blank and pre-recorded VHS videocassettes. He divested it of less profitable operations like mail-handling equipment and nurtured its burgeoning videotape division. Frey's work at Bell & Howell contributed to his winning the National Medal of Technology in 1990.

Frey lectured at Northwestern as an adjunct professor as early as 1983 and served on the Technological Institute Advisory Council in 1985, but he began teaching full time after leaving Bell & Howell in 1988. While at Northwestern, Frey taught classes on a range of topics that included information systems, entrepreneurship, industrial design, telecommunications, and product management. Frey continued teaching until 2008, but continued to live in Evanston, Illinois until his death in 2010 at age 86.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Donald Frey Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 22/4/18
Abstract Donald Nelson Frey was born on March 13, 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri and grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, where his father was chief metallurgist for a John Deere plant. He attended Michigan State University for two years, but left to serve in the Army during World War II. After his return, he earned bachelor's (1947), master's (1949) and doctoral (1950) degrees in metallurgy from the University of Michigan.The Donald N. Frey papers span the years 1948 through 2010, comprise 44 boxes,...
Dates: 1948-2010; Other: Date acquired: 07/07/2011