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Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore, behind Moore’s Law, dies at 94

Gordon E. Moore, a co-founder and former chairman of Intel Corporation, the Californian semiconductor chip maker that helped give Silicon Valley its name, once dominated by giant American railroads or steel companies of another era Helped, died Friday at his home in Hawaii. He was 94 years old.

His death was confirmed by Intel and the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation. He didn’t give any reason.

Along with a handful of collaborators, Mr. Moore can take credit for bringing laptop computers to millions of people and for putting microprocessors in everything from bathroom scales, toasters and toy fire engines to cellphones, cars and jets.

Mr. Moore, who wanted to be a teacher but could not find a job in education and later called himself an accidental entrepreneur, became a billionaire as a result of an initial $500 investment in the budding microchip business that turned electronics into a . Largest industry in the world.

And it was he, his associates said, who saw the future. In 1965, in what became known as Moore’s Law, he predicted that the number of transistors that could be placed on a single silicon chip would double at regular intervals for the foreseeable future, thus accelerating the data-processing power of computers. will increase from

He later added two consequences: emerging technology would make computers more and more expensive to make, yet consumers would be charged less and less for them as more and more would be sold. Moore’s Law held up for decades.

Through a combination of Mr. Moore’s talent, leadership, charisma and contacts, as well as that of his partner and Intel co-founder, Robert Noyce, the two assembled a group widely regarded as some of the world’s boldest and most creative technologists. Considered one of the. high tech age.

It was this group that advocated the use of thumbnail-thin chips of silicon, a highly polished, chemically treated sandy substance – one of the most common natural resources on Earth – that has been described as tiny and housing silicon’s amazing hospitality. came in front. Smaller electronic circuitry that could operate at higher and higher speeds.

With its silicon microprocessors, the brains of a computer, Intel enabled American manufacturers in the mid-1980s to gain an edge over their formidable Japanese competitors in the vast computer data-processing field. By the 1990s, Intel used its microprocessors in 80 percent of computers manufactured worldwide, becoming the most successful semiconductor company in history.

Much of his work was done under the supervision of Mr. Moore. He was chief executive from 1975 to 1987, when Andrew Grove succeeded him, and remained chairman until 1997.

As his wealth grew, Mr. Moore also became a prominent figure in philanthropy. In 2001, he and his wife created the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation with a donation of 175 million Intel shares. In 2001, he donated $600 million to the California Institute of Technology, the largest single gift to an institution of higher learning at the time. The Foundation currently has assets of over $8 billion and has donated over $5 billion since its inception.

In interviews, Mr. Moore was notably modest about his achievements, particularly the technological advances that Moore’s Law made possible.

“What I could see was that semiconductor devices were going to be cheap the way electronics were. That was the message I was trying to get across,” he told journalist Michael Malone in 2000. The prediction turned out to be much more accurate than I ever imagined.

Not only was Mr. Moore predicting that electronics would become much cheaper over time as the industry shifted from discrete transistors and tubes to silicon microchips, but over the years his predictions proved so reliable that technology firms based their product strategy on the notion. Based on that Moore’s law would be valid.

Harry Sall, a longtime Silicon Valley entrepreneur, said, “Any business that does rational multi-year planning must adapt to this rate of change or else be let off steam.”

“It’s his legacy,” said Arthur Rock, an early investor in Intel and a friend of Mr. Moore. “It’s not Intel. It’s not the Moore Foundation. It’s that phrase: Moore’s Law.

Mr. Moore in the early days of Intel. His prediction, a few years earlier, that the number of transistors that could be placed on a single silicon chip would double at regular intervals became known as Moore’s Law. Credit… Intel

Gordon Earl 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 deputy sheriff, and his mother, the former Florence Almira Williamson, ran a family general store.

Mr. Moore attended San Jose State College (now San Jose State University), where he met Betty Whittaker, a journalism student. They married in 1950. That year, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in chemistry. In 1954, he earned his doctorate, also in chemistry, from Caltech.

One of the first jobs he applied for was as a manager for Dow Chemical. “They sent me to a psychologist to see how it would fit,” Mr. Moore wrote in 1994. “The psychologist said I was technically fine but I would never be able to manage anything.”

So Mr. Moore took a position with 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 the job, “but I decided I didn’t want to take spectra of atomic bombings, so I turned it down.” he wrote.

Instead, in 1956, Mr. Moore joined transistor inventor William Shockley to work at the West Coast division of Bell Laboratories, a start-up entity that aimed to make cheap silicon transistors.

But the company, Shockley Semiconductor, was founded under Mr. Shockley, who had no experience running a company. In 1957, Mr. Moore and Mr. Noyce joined a group of defectors that became known as the “Traitor Eight”. With $500 each put up as well as $1.3 million backing from aircraft pioneer Sherman Fairchild, the eight men left to form Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, which became a leader in the manufacture of integrated circuits.

Bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, Mr. Moore and Mr. Noyce decided to form their own company in 1968, focusing on semiconductor memory. He wrote what Mr. Moore described as a “very generic” business plan.

In a 1994 interview he said, “It said we were going to work with silicon … and make interesting products.”

Despite his vague offer, he had no trouble getting financial backing.

With $2.5 million in capital, Mr. Moore and Mr. Noyce called their start-up Integrated Electronics Corporation, and later shortened it to Intel. The third employee was Mr. Grove, a young Hungarian immigrant who had worked under Mr. Moore at Fairchild.

After some indecision about which technology to focus on, the three men settled on a new version of MOS – metal oxide semiconductor – technology called silicon-gate MOS. To improve the speed and density of a transistor, he used silicon instead of aluminum.

Mr. Moore wrote in 1994, “Fortunately, by a lot of luck, we found a technology that had just the right level of difficulty for a successful start-up.” “That’s how Intel got started.”

In the early 1970s, Intel’s 4000 series “computer on a chip” revolutionized personal computers, although Intel missed the opportunity to build a PC itself, which Mr. Moore partly blamed on his shortsightedness. .

“Long before Apple, one of our engineers came to me with the suggestion that Intel should make a computer for the home,” he wrote. “And I asked him, ‘Why would anyone want a computer in their home?’

Still, he saw the future. In 1963, while at Fairchild as director of research and development, Mr. Moore contributed a book chapter describing what would become a precursor to his eponymous law, without explicit numerical prediction. Two years later, he published an article in Electronics, a widely circulated trade journal, titled “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits.”

David Brock, co-author of “Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary,” said, “The article clearly presented the same argument as a book chapter with the addition of numerical prediction.”

Mr Brock said there was little evidence that many people read the article when it was published.

“He kept interacting with these charts and plots, and people started using his slides and reproducing his graphs,” Mr. Brock said. “Then the people saw that the incident had happened. Silicon microchips got more complex, and their cost went down.”

In the 1960s, when Mr. Moore started in electronics, a single silicon transistor sold for $150. Later, more than $10 to 100 million transistors were purchased. Mr. Moore once wrote that if cars went as fast as computers, “they would go 100,000 miles to the gallon and it would be cheaper to buy a Rolls-Royce than to park it.” Will be.)

Mr Moore’s survivors include his wife and their sons, Kenneth and Steven, as well as four grandchildren.

In 2014, Forbes estimated Mr. Moore’s net worth at $7 billion. Yet he remained reclusive throughout his life, preferring tattered shirts and khakis to tailored suits. He shopped at Costco and kept a collection of fly lures and fishing reels on his office desk.

Moore’s Law is bound to reach its end, as engineers face some basic physical limits, as well as the exorbitant cost of building factories to achieve the next level of miniaturization. And the pace of miniaturization has slowed in recent years.

Mr. Moore himself commented from time to time on the inevitable end of Moore’s Law. “This 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, former science editor of The Times B. Noble passed away in 2017.


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