Walter Robb — who led the medical business at General Electric (NYSE:GE) through much of the 1970s and ’80s as it became a profitable maker of CT scanners and MRI systems — is dead from coronavirus at age 92, according to media reports.
Robb died early on the morning of March 23 at a hospital in Schenectady, N.Y. — about three days after arriving with a serious cough, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and local media outlets including the Albany Times Union.
President Bill Clinton in 1993 honored Robb for his work on medical imaging with a National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Robb’s medal laureate page recounts how he pushed GE in the 1970s to not only get into the CT scanning business but to design a superior machine that would enable the company to dominate the industry.
Said the profile: “Robb pushed his research team to come up with a faster scanner. In less than two years he and his team pushed through major technological advancements that sped up the time it took to create an image to a mere 5 seconds. Years later, when GE entered the MRI market Robb would again lead the company’s research that would yield vast improvements in the technology. And under his guidance, GE would become the world’s leader in medical imaging equipment, a multi-billion-dollar business for the company.”
Robb led the medical business until 1986, when he left to run GE’s research laboratories. Retiring from the company in 1992, he remained active right up to his death in business consulting and philanthropy.