Potato - and Computer Chip - King Dies

Billionaire J.R. Simplot, whose wealth earned him the title of "spud king" of America, passed away Sunday at his Boise home (where else but Boise for the "spud king") at the age of 99.

In 1980, at age 71, Simplot took a gamble on the next generation of businessmen, giving Ward and Joe Parkinson $1 million for 40 percent of what would become computer chip maker Micron Technology Inc. Over the years, he pumped in $20 million more to help Micron build its first manufacturing plant and to stay afloat. Micron went on to become a major producer of DRAM memory chips, which are used to store information in personal computers.

At one time Simplot was a McDonald's board member, and later in life he could be seen driving his white Lincoln Town Car with "Mr. Spud" personalized plates to McDonald's for hash browns or french fries several times a week.
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