Gordon E. Moore, the Intel co-founder behind Moore’s Law, dies at 94
Gordon E. Moore is the co-founder and former chairman of Intel Corporation, the California-based semiconductor chipmaker that helped give Silicon Valley its name, achieving a place once occupied by the American railroad or steel giants of another era. of that industrial dominance, died Friday at his home in Hawaii. He is 94 years old.
his death is Intel confirms and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. They did not provide a reason.
Mr. Moore, along with several of his colleagues, brought laptops to hundreds of millions of people and embedded microprocessors in everything from bathroom scales, toasters and toy fire engines to cell phones, cars and jets. commendable.
Mr. Moore, who wanted to be a teacher but couldn’t find work in education, has since described himself as an accidental entrepreneur who became a billionaire after investing an initial $500 in a fledgling microchip business that turned electronics into the world’s largest industry.
His colleagues say he saw the future. In 1965, based on what became known as Moore’s Law, he predicted that the number of transistors that could be placed on a silicon chip would periodically double for the foreseeable future, exponentially increasing the data-processing capabilities of computers.
He later added two corollaries: Evolving technology would make computers more and more expensive to manufacture, but consumers would pay less and less for them because they would sell in abundance. Moore’s Law persisted for decades.
By combining the brilliance, leadership, charisma and connections of Mr. Moore, and his partner and Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, the two formed what is widely considered by many to be the world’s boldest and most creative Team of technicians High-tech era.
The group advocates the use of thumbnail-thin wafers of silicon, a highly polished, chemically-treated sandy substance—one of the most common natural resources on Earth—because silicon holds smaller and smaller chips. Objects exhibit amazing hospitality in terms of smaller electronic circuits that can work at increasingly higher speeds.
With its silicon microprocessors that are the brains of computers, Intel enabled U.S. manufacturers to retake the lead in the vast field of computer data processing from its formidable Japanese rival in the mid-1980s. By the 1990s, Intel had incorporated its microprocessors into 80% of the world’s computers, making it the most successful semiconductor company in history.
Much of his work takes place under the supervision of Mr. Moore. He served as CEO from 1975 to 1987, when he was succeeded by Andrew Grove, and as chairman until 1997.
As his fortune has grown, Mr Moore has also become a prominent figure in philanthropy. In 2001, he and his wife donated 175 million shares of Intel stock to create the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In 2001, they donated $600 million to Caltech, the largest single gift to an institution of higher learning at the time. The foundation currently has assets of more than $8 billion and has donated more than $5 billion since its inception.
In interviews, Mr. Moore is consistently modest about his achievements, especially the technological advances brought about by Moore’s Law.
“What I can see is that semiconductor devices are the way electronics get cheap. That’s the message I’m trying to get across,” he told journalist Michael Malone in 2000. “It turned out to be a very accurate prediction — much more accurate than I thought it would be.”
Not only did Mr. Moore predict that electronics would become cheaper over time as the industry moved from discrete transistors and tubes to silicon microchips, but over the years his predictions proved so reliable that technology companies’ product strategies All based on the assumption that Moore’s Law will hold.
“Any business that does reasonable multi-year planning has to assume this rate of change or get overwhelmed,” says Harisal, a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
“It’s his legacy,” said Arthur Locke, an early investor in Intel and a friend of Mr. Moore’s. “It’s not Intel. It’s not the Moore Foundation. It’s that phrase: Moore’s Law.”
Gordon Earle Moore was born on January 3, 1929 in San Francisco. He grew up in Pescadero, a small coastal town south of San Francisco, where his father, Walter H. Moore, was a sheriff’s deputy and his mother, the former Florence Almira Williams Florence Almira Williamson’s family runs a grocery store.
Mr. Moore attended San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), where he met Betty Whitaker, a journalism student. They married in 1950. That year, he completed his undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley, earning a degree in chemistry. In 1954, he received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech.
The first job he applied for was as a manager at the Dow Chemical Company. Mr Moore wrote in 1994: “They sent me to a psychologist to see if this was appropriate. The psychologist said I was technically OK but I never managed anything.”
As such, Mr. Moore holds a position at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. Then, looking for a way back to California, he interviewed at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in Livermore, California. He was offered a job, “but I decided I didn’t want to take a spectrum of an exploding nuclear bomb, so I turned it down,” he wrote.
Instead, in 1956, Mr Moore joined the transistor’s inventor, William Shockley, at the West Coast division of Bell Laboratories, a start-up aiming to make cheap silicon transistors.
However, Shockley Semiconductor was founded under the leadership of Mr. Shockley, who had no experience in running a company. In 1957, Mr Moore and Mr Noyce joined a group of defectors who became known as the “Rebel Eight”. With $500 each, and $1.3 million in support from aircraft pioneer Sherman Fairchild, eight left to form Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, a pioneer in the manufacture of integrated circuits.
Inspired by an entrepreneurial spirit, Mr. Moore and Mr. Noyce decided in 1968 to start their own company, focusing on semiconductor memory. They wrote what Mr Moore called a “very general” business plan.
“It said we were going to work with silicon … and make interesting products,” he said in a 1994 interview.
Despite the ambiguity of their proposal, they had no trouble finding financial support.
With $2.5 million in capital, Mr. Moore and Mr. Noyce called their start-up the Integrated Electronics Corporation, later shortened to Intel. The third employee was Mr Grove, a young Hungarian immigrant who had worked for Mr Moore at Fairchild.
After hesitating about which technology to focus on, the trio settled on a new version of MOS (metal-oxide-semiconductor) technology called silicon-gate MOS. To increase the speed and density of transistors, they use silicon instead of aluminum.
Mr. Moore wrote in 1994: “Fortunately, very fortunately, we found a technology that was just the right level of difficulty to allow a successful start-up to succeed. That was the beginning of Intel.”
In the early 1970s, Intel’s 4000 series of “computers on a chip” started the personal computer revolution, although Intel itself missed the opportunity to make a personal computer, which Mr. Moore blamed in part on his own short-sightedness.
“Long before Apple, one of our engineers came to me and suggested that Intel should build a computer for the home,” he wrote. “Then I asked him, ‘What the hell would someone want a computer for at home?’
Still, he saw the future. In 1963, while still working as Director of Research and Development at Fairchild, Mr. Moore contributed a book chapter describing the predecessor to his eponymous law, but without explicit numerical predictions. Two years later, he published an article in Electronics, a widely circulated trade journal, entitled “Packing More Components into Integrated Circuits.”
“This article makes the same arguments as the chapters in this book, with the addition of this clear numerical prediction,” said David Brock, co-author of Moore’s Law: The Life of Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary Gordon Moore.
Mr Brock said there was little evidence that the article was read by many people when it was published.
“He kept giving presentations with these diagrams and plots, and people started using his slides and copying his diagrams,” Mr. Brock said. “And then people saw this happen. Silicon microchips got more complex, and their cost came down.”
In the 1960s, when Mr. Moore started dabbling in electronics, a single silicon transistor sold for $150. Later, $10 could buy over 100 million transistors. Mr. Moore wrote that if cars developed as fast as computers, “you could get 100,000 miles to the gallon, and it would be cheaper to buy a Rolls-Royce than to park it. (Cars are half an inch long, too.)”
Mr. Moore’s survivors include his wife, sons Kenneth and Steven, and four grandchildren.
In 2014, Forbes estimated Mr. Moore’s net worth at $7 billion. Throughout his life, however, he maintained a bland air, preferring tattered shirts and khakis to well-fitting suits. He does his shopping at Costco and keeps a collection of lures and reels on his desk.
Moore’s Law is bound to come to an end as engineers run into some fundamental physical constraints and the extreme cost of building factories to achieve higher levels of miniaturization. The pace of miniaturization has slowed in recent years.
Mr. Moore himself has commented from time to time on the inevitable end of Moore’s Law. “It can’t go on forever,” he said in a 2005 interview with Techworld magazine. “The nature of exponents is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens.”
Holcomb B. Noble, the former science editor of The Times, died in 2017.