As a Chicago-area high school student in the early 1970s, Thomas Engibous built a digital computer that added numbers by flashing neon bulbs. The project led him into chip engineering and, in 1976, to Texas Instruments. On June 20, the 43-year-old was named president and CEO, replacing Jerry Junkins, who died on May 29 during a business trip to Europe. TI Director James Adams says Engibous stands out as a strategic thinker: "He takes his time on the big decisions and doesn't on the smaller ones."

Engibous is taking over the Dallas chipmaker at a critical time. Tumbling chip prices are hurting TI's profits, and net income could fall 34% from 1995's $1.1 billion. But he promises no radical changes anytime soon. "I've been a member of the strategy team since 1993," he points out.

Engibous isn't all engineer. For inspiration, he cruises open water in his 1974 Chris-Craft Commander. "Every time he gets promoted, he buys a bigger boat," jokes pal Walden Rhines, CEO of Mentor Graphics. Does that mean a yacht is in view?

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