Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel Corporation, whose theory on computer chip development became the standard for success in the electronics industry, has died. He was 94.
According to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Moore passed away peacefully on Friday at his home in Hawaii.
Moore helped start Intel in 1968. Before that, he had helped start an industry leader called Fairchild Semiconductor, which grew to become the world’s largest semiconductor maker at one point.The microprocessor, which is manufactured in Santa Clara, California, is used in about 80% of the world’s personal computers. Moore was the company’s CEO from 1975 until 1987.
Moore’s Law, the scientist’s 1965 discovery that the number of transistors on a computer chip, which affects the speed, memory, and capabilities of an electronic device, doubles every year, is currently used by Intel and other semiconductor producers to design products. The law, which Moore updated in 1975, remains a measure for advancement both inside and outside the chip industry, even if its ongoing validity is debatable.
Today, we lost a visionary.
Gordon Moore, thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/bAiBAtmd9K
— Intel (@intel) March 25, 2023
Moore’s insight was critical to Intel’s climb to prominence. The corporation put growing amounts into perfecting the fabrication of the small electronic components at a rate that its competitors couldn’t match. Intel’s technology became the physical core of the personal computer revolution, then the internet revolution, until the company’s Asian competitors challenged its primacy.
Alive and Well
“Intel will be the steward of Moore’s Law for decades to come,” Chief Executive Officer Pat Gelsinger said in a January 2022 interview. He said the law “is alive and we’re going to keep it very well.”
Carver Mead, who taught engineering at the California Institute of Technology, came up with the idea of Moore’s Law.Moore was astounded by its power and persistence, preferring to demystify and minimise it.
“I wanted to get across, here’s an idea where the technology is going to evolve rapidly and it’s going to have a major impact on the cost of electronics,” Moore recalled for a video produced by the Chemical Heritage Foundation. “That was the main point I was trying to get across, that this was going to be the path to low-cost electronics.”
Moore was the head of research and development at Fairchild when he made his famous forecast in an article for the April 19, 1965, issue of Electronics magazine titled “Cramming More Components Onto Integrated Circuits.” He estimated that the most cost-effective circuit at the time would have 50 transistors, and that number would nearly quadruple each year to 65,000. There are billions of transistors in modern microprocessors.
In the same article he wrote: “Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers, or at least terminals connected to a central computer, automatic controls for automobiles and personal portable communications equipment.”
Moore revised his formula in 1975, predicting that components per chip would double every two years rather than every year. David House, an Intel colleague, proposed the oft-quoted conclusion that a chip’s performance would double every 18 months owing to both the amount and quality of transistors.
According to Intel’s proxy filing from 2006, Moore had 173 million shares. His name appears in the company’s regulatory filings for the final time. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his net worth was $7.5 billion.
Moore established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000, which had assets of $9.5 billion as of 2021, making it one of the largest private grant-making organisations in the United States. It contributes to global environmental protection, health care, and scientific research, as well as local issues in the San Francisco Bay region. Moore attributed his interest in the environment to his passion for fishing.
Moore and his wife made major gifts to Caltech in Pasadena, California, including $600 million; $200 million to Caltech and the University of California to build the world’s most powerful optical telescope; and $100 million to the University of California at Davis to build a nursing school.
Gordon Earle Moore was born in San Francisco on January 3, 1929, and raised in Pescadero, California. When he was 10, his family relocated to Redwood City, California. Walter, his father, was a deputy sheriff. Florence Almira Williamson, his mother, had a modest general shop.
Moore became interested in chemistry after seeing a laboratory set at a neighbour’s home. He started experimenting with rockets and explosives while attending San Jose State University and studying chemistry. He met his wife, the former Betty Whittaker, there. Kenneth and Steven would be their offspring.
Moore moved to the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated as the first person in his family in 1950. Caltech awarded him a Ph.D. in physics and chemistry in 1954.
He got a position at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Silver Spring, Maryland. William Shockley, who invented the transistor at Bell Telephone Laboratories and shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1956, got Moore to work at his Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.
Moore and seven coworkers, including Robert Noyce, left their jobs in 1957 to start Fairchild. They had $3,500 of their own money and Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp. put in $1.5 million.Shockley called them the “Traitorous Eight.”In the late 1950s, Noyce contributed to the development of the integrated circuit, which serves as the foundation for all chip designs to this day. He passed away in 1990.
Noyce and Moore started Intel, which stands for “integrated electronics.” They did this at a former Union Carbide plant in Mountain View, which would become the centre of Silicon Valley.Moore’s initial position was that of executive vice president. Another Fairchild employee, Andy Grove, soon joined them.
Intel launched its first microprocessor with over 2,000 transistors in 1971. Its 8080 microprocessor was used in the Altair 8800, which was released in 1975 and is largely regarded as the first successful personal computer. IBM chose Intel’s 8088 CPU to power its first personal computer in 1981.
Moore was appointed president and CEO in 1975 and chairman and CEO in 1979. Grove took over as CEO in 1987, and Moore resigned from Intel’s board of directors in 2001 at the age of 72, in line with a required retirement-age regulation he imposed.
Moore “does not boast, although his record of achievement provides a great deal to boast about,” Richard Tedlow wrote in his 2006 biography of Grove. “He appears to be, that is to say, simply a regular person.” Tedlow quoted Grove calling Moore “a smart guy with no airs.”
Most chip industry executives and observers today would claim that Moore’s Law is no longer valid. Some of the materials used to make semiconductors are barely an atom thick, which means they cannot be shrunk any more. The characteristics of the materials that make them semiconductors degrade at such small geometries. That renders them useless as minuscule switches representing the most fundamental kind of electrical information.
Moore predicted the end of Moore’s Law, which was the opposite of what other Intel executives did.
“Someday it has to stop,” Moore stated at a 2015 gathering commemorating the 50th anniversary of his legislation. “No exponential thing like this continues indefinitely.”
Moore is survived by his wife, Betty Irene Whitaker, his sons Kenneth and Steven, and four grandchildren.