Artifact Details


McKenna, Regis oral history

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This is the transcript of an eight-interview series with Regis McKenna, whose pioneering work in technology marketing and business strategy contributed to the success of hundreds of companies for more than five decades. McKenna was a talented, innovative marketing professional from the earliest days of the technology revolution in Silicon Valley. He came to the Valley in 1963 at the age of 24, worked in marketing in the early semiconductor industry, and then established his own company, Regis McKenna Inc. (RMI), in 1970. McKenna became a globally sought-after strategist and marketing expert, and RMI opened numerous offices around the world. His personal and professional relationships at RMI included Steve Jobs, Robert Noyce and Andy Grove. His more than 700 clients included such legendary companies as Apple, Intel, and Genentech. He is the author of five best-selling business books and one of the most reprinted articles in the history of the Harvard Business Review, “Marketing is Everything” (1999). McKenna was recruited to many outside boards and advisory roles, among them his service as a founding advisory board member of the Computer History Museum’s Exponential Center.
The interviews took place at the Museum between June 13, 2018, and January 15, 2019. The interviewer was John Hollar, president and CEO of the Museum from 2008 to 2017.

The first interview covers McKenna’s childhood and education near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his early career in publishing, his move to California and his early career with the companies General Microelectronics and National Semiconductor. The time period covered is roughly 1939 to 1970.

The second interview covers McKenna’s career at National Semiconductor Corporation and his relationship with Charles Sporck, Don Valentine and other NSC executives, as well as the circumstances that led McKenna to depart NSC and found his own company, Regis McKenna Inc. The time period covered is roughly 1967 to 1970.

The third interview session took place on July 13, 2018. It covers the early years of RMI after McKenna founded it in 1970. The bulk of the interview covers McKenna’s unique, deep relationship with Intel beginning in 1971. The time period covered is roughly 1970 to 1985.

The fourth interview session took place on August 17, 2018. It covers Regis’s unique relationship with Steve Jobs over 35 years and the important work Regis and RMI performed for Apple Computer, Inc. The time period covered is roughly 1976 to 1986.

The fifth interview session took place on October 5, 2018. It covers Regis’s experience with Apple under CEO John Sculley and the RMI client base in the 1980s and 1990s. The time period covered is roughly 1985 to 1999.

The sixth interview session took place on October 9, 2018. It covers Regis’s development and execution of marketing and business strategy for new companies like Genentech, his landmark articles for the Harvard Business Review, his books “Real Time” and “Total Access,” and the evolution of Regis McKenna Inc. as an employee-owned company. The events take place in the time period spanning the late 1970s to 2000.

The seventh interview session took place on January 14, 2019. It covers Regis’s overall approach to marketing and “lessons learned” over his long career.

The eighth interview covers McKenna’s major involvement in Democratic politics, his long-term relationship with Santa Clara University and his service on outside advisory boards, including his work with Toyota. The end of the interview contains answers to a series of questions asked of every participant in the oral histories conducted for the Exponential Center at the Computer History Museum.




Hollar, John C., Interviewer
McKenna, Regis, Interviewee


Computer History Museum

Place of Publication

Mountain View, CA


320 p.





Collection Title

CHM Oral History Collection


Computer History Museum

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