Craig R. Barrett is the former CEO and president of Intel. Before talking with ASU President Michael Crow about the future of the computer chip, he sat down in the Zócalo green room to talk about what it takes to get him on a dance floor, why he wears a tie design that features the letter R, and why he can’t live without his personal computer or his boron fiber fly fishing rod.
If you could be any animal, which would you choose?
I want to fly, so I think an eagle, a raptor, an osprey—something like that.
Where do you come up with your best ideas?
Probably when I’m out in the outdoors hiking or something of that sort and there’s no other peripheral influences other than Mother Nature.
What does it take to get you out on a dance floor?
My wife threatening me.
What’s your favorite thing about Phoenix?
I like the environment, the people, the openness. It’s not an established community yet; it’s still very accepting of new people, new ideas.
What’s underrated about retirement?
Retirement is all about saying a two-letter word: No. I have enough opportunity in retirement that I get to say no a fair amount, and therefore I get to do what I want to do.
What teacher or professor, if any, changed your life?
I had a high school math teacher who got me very interested in math, and I had a couple of university professors who got me interested in engineering and research, and helped to do a Ph.D.
What’s your favorite condiment?
Chunky blue cheese dressing.
What was the first computer you used?
It was an Osborne—the first personal computer. Everybody used an IBM mainframe before that at school. But the first PC was an Osborne computer.
What’s the ugliest tie you own?
I have a pink tie somewhere, but I never wear it. I am wearing my Romney victory tie tonight. [A blue tie featuring repeated letter R’s..] After the last election I said I would wear this tie for four years to remind myself and all those around me what the U.S. did in the last election. I guess that means I’m a Republican.
What piece of technology can’t you live without?
I think a PC is still it. Unless I’m fly fishing, and then it’s a boron fiber fly rod.