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Avery Fisher, electronics pioneer

Avery Fisher, the founder of the Fisher electronics company and a philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to arts organizations and universities, died Saturday at the New Milford Hospital in New Milford, Conn. He was 87.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said his wife, Janet.

Mr. Fisher, for whom a concert hall at Lincoln Center was named, was an influential figure in New York musical circles, an amateur violinist whose love of music led him to build his own high-quality radios and phonographs in the 1930s, first as a hobby and later as an extremely profitable business.

He sat on the boards of the New York Philharmonic, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Marlboro Festival and other organizations.

"I like to be thought of as a musician who incidentally manufactured high-quality, high-fidelity equipment for music lovers," he said in 1973.

Avery Robert Fisher was born in Brooklyn on March 4, 1906, the youngest of six children. His father, Charles Fisher, and his mother, the former Mary Byrach, came to New York from Kiev, then a part of Russia, in 1905.

Mr. Fisher said that he had become fascinated with music through his father's large record collection and that everyone in the family played a musical instrument.

Mr. Fisher's endeavors in audio design began in the mid-1930s, while he was working for Dodd, Mead. He began building radios to get better sound than what ready-made models delivered.

By 1937, he had made notable improvements in the design of amplifiers, tuners and speakers, and he established his first company, Philharmonic Radio.

"I was developing my hobby in hi-fi, and a number of friends asked me to make for them the kind of equipment I was constructing for my own home," Mr. Fisher recalled in 1976.

In 1945, Mr. Fisher sold Philharmonic Radio and started a second audio company, Fisher Radio. He assembled his engineering staff by luring the best audio technicians from European companies.

"I wanted my equipment to be the best that technology made possible," Mr. Fisher said. "So we didn't cut corners. We weren't the biggest in the world. I'm sure other companies sold more units than we did. But we weren't interested in that."

In 1969, he sold Fisher to Emerson, a St. Louis-based company, for just under $31-million. Emerson, in turn, sold Fisher to Sanyo.

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