Åke Lundqvist passed away on May 10, but his legacy lives on. Indeed, Ericsson’s industry-leadership position owes as much to Lundqvist as to company founder Lars Magnus Ericsson.

Lundqvist spent 12 years as president of Svenska Radio Aktiebolaget, which later became Ericsson Radio Systems. There he made many decisions that would prove pivotal for the development of the mobile industry and for Ericsson.

In 1989, during the early days of mobile telephony, he moved to the US to head Ericsson’s mobile-communication joint venture with General Electric, and what later became Ericsson Radio Systems. Lundqvist saw the potential of the AXE switching systems, especially in the US market where they matched the American mobile standard. From that initial success, Ericsson’s mobile business developed fast.

Ericsson soon established itself as the market-leading vendor for mobile telephony. The success in the US market proved that the AXE switch worked just as well for mobile systems, and was in fact a prerequisite for a mobile system that could handle large volumes. Ericsson was now uniquely positioned to develop and sell complete systems.

Another of his visionary decisions was the drive for innovation, starting with the recruitment of young doctoral students and researchers within the area of digital-signal processing. More than anything, this made it possible for Ericsson to lay the foundation for its leading position in GSM, the first truly global mobile-telephony standard.

In addition to becoming an honorary doctor at Chalmers University of Technology in 1991 and being awarded the prestigious KTH Great Prize in 1994, Lundqvist was a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences.

Åke Lundqvist 1932-2014

Åke Lundqvist was born in 1932 in rural Ransäter, Värmland, Sweden. A graduate of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), where he studied electro-technology, he came to Ericsson from Philips in 1963 and was development manager of what later became Ericsson Radio Systems. He was appointed president of the company in 1977 and held the position until 1988.

When Lundquist retired from Ericsson in 1994, he devoted himself to his other passion: wood. His hobby was carving wood figures; he built a complete sawmill on his country estate and also resumed contact with KTH and its research in Wood Technology.