I never worked directly for Linc Samelson, but it’s safe to say I wouldn’t have had a career writing about electronics design and assembly were it not for him. I certainly wouldn’t have many of my good friends.
Linc passed away last weekend at the age of 89 following a car accident. He was a lifelong entrepreneur, going from engineering college student to a career in the Navy, followed by a degree in journalism from the University of Illinois in 1948.
After some time in the electrical insulation manufacturing industry, Linc recognized the need for a trade publication. That prompted he and his father to launch, in 1955, a company called Lake Publishing, named after Lake Forest, the town north of Chicago where their first offices were.
Their startup magazine, Insulation, grew and eventually was renamed Insulation/ Circuits. The electronics trade publishing industry would never be the same.
Fast forward to 1991. At that time, Lake Publishing had relocated to a far north Chicago suburb of Libertyville. To his group of journals Linc had added a number of titles — Microelectronics Manufacturing and Testing (MMT), Hybrid Circuit Technology (HCT), and eventually Surface Mount Technology (SMT).
SMT started as a seasonal supplement to HCT, then grew into a standalone publication. And in 1991, just one year out of college, I joined the magazine as associate editor.
At that time Linc was in transition too, having sold the company to a subsidiary of Information Handling Services. (According to lore, IHS bought Lake with the idea the magazines would serve as a monthly advertising vehicle for its component catalogs. Unfortunately for IHS, no one from the corporate offices in Denver ever bothered to send the ads.)
As an owner, Linc seemed to understand the nature of people. He had a racquetball court installed in the building and tennis courts outside. On Fridays came happy hours, with a keg of beer tapped to celebrate the weekend. (This was a different era for a lot of reasons.) His employees were never going to get rich working for him, but he did invest strategically, be it in equipment or brand positioning, always making sure there was an army of staff representing the company at trade shows.
Linc married my former colleague at Lake/IHS and longtime friend Jennifer Samelson (nee Read), with whom he raised seven children. Besides his wife, Linc is survived by 16 children, 19 grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He continued working into the late 1990s.
Through the years, Linc remained a favorite topic for me and former colleagues, some still in the industry, most now out. He brought us together, and in many ways launched us on our careers. I will always be grateful for his foresight and vision.