TV ratings pioneer Arthur C. Nielsen Jr., chairman of the A.C. Nielsen Company, died Monday from Alzheimer’s-related complications. He was 92. Nielsen’s father may have invented the system still used by the ratings metrics company, but Nielsen was the force that innovated its uses and, indeed, made “Nielsen” a household name. He joined the company in 1945 after serving in World War II.
Seeing the importance of computer technology during his service, he convinced his father to make the company an early investor in the building the first general-purpose computer, the Univac. This enterprising spirit helped Nielsen grow the his company’s income from less than $4 million a year when he was named president in 1957 to more than $680 million. Nielsen retired in 1983, and his company his since been purchased by Dutch publishing company VNU, but his name – and his legacy – are indelible.