Gordon Moore, Intel Co-Founder and Philanthropist, Passes Away at 94

by Michael Nguyen
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Gordon Moore, a co-founder of Intel Corporation, passed away on Friday. He was 94 years old. Gordon was famous because he made a prediction in 1965 that accurately predicted how much computer technology is able to improve over time. His home and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation both announced his death.

Back in 1965, Moore had a doctorate degree in both chemistry and physics. Three years later he took part in founding Intel. One of his predictions – that’s now known famously as “Moore’s Law” – was featured among a bunch of articles about the future published by Electronics magazine.

According to this forecast written on graph paper, Moore figured out that the level of complexity of integrated circuits would double every year.

Moore’s idea states that the number of transistors found on a semiconductor (small chip) will double every 18 months. Since then, this idea has been applied to other electronic items like hard drives and computer monitors- basically meaning that these products are updated or replaced roughly every eighteen months – resulting in older versions becoming obsolete. This has become an expected rate of progress for tech companies striving to keep up with innovations.

Carver Mead, a computer scientist from California Institute of Technology, said in 2005 that the “human spirit” is what made Silicon Valley so successful. He described it as “the real thing.”

Gordon Moore and his wife became famous for their kindness and generosity. They started the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 which works to protect the environment, do science research, help sick people, and give back to the Bay area. This foundation has donated over 5.1 billion dollars to good projects. Harvey Fineberg, President of this Foundation said that everyone who knows or worked with Gordon will keep him in mind because of his knowledge, humbleness and giving heart.

The Intel Chairman Frank Yeary said that Gordon Moore was an amazing scientist and a successful American entrepreneur. He also noted that it’s impossible to think of our world today without the help of Gordon Moore, considering computing is so essential for us nowadays.

In addition to this, author David Brock mentioned in his book called “Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary” that Moore was really important when it came to creating silicon electronics.

Moore was born in San Francisco on the 3rd of January, 1929. He lived in a small seaside town called Pescadero when he was a kid and it was there that he discovered his love for chemistry sets. After attending college at San Jose State University and then transferring to UC Berkeley, Moore graduated with a degree in Chemistry. Later, he obtained his Ph.D from the California Institute of Technology in 1954 and then worked as a researcher at Johns Hopkins University afterwards.

His career with microchips began in 1956 when he started working for William Shockley who had just won a Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor. After only two years, Moore and his 7 colleagues got fed up of Shockley’s management style and left his company.

A group of people started to be called the “traitorous eight” because they decided to break away and start their own company. This “breakaway attitude” eventually became part of Silicon Valley culture which made engineers bold enough to become competitors when they disagreed with their colleagues.

The traitorous eight left Shockley in 1957 and created Fairchild Semiconductor, which was famous for creating the integrated circuit, a more advanced version of the transistor.

Fairchild supplied the parts that were built into the first computers for astronauts to use in space.

In 1968, Moore and Robert Noyce decided to venture out on their own with $500,000 from them and money from a business partner named Arthur Rock. Lastly, they created Intel – a combination of “integrated” and “electronics”.

In 1975, Moore became Intel’s boss. He was chief executive until 1987 and then still chairman for another 10 years after that. From 1997 to 2006, he had the honorary title of ‘chairman emeritus’. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush gave him a National Medal of Technology and twelve years later in 2002, President George W. Bush awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Even though he was famous and really rich, Moore was known for being humble. In 2005, he famously said that his now-famous Moore’s Law was just a lucky guess which got more attention than it deserved.

He leaves behind his wife Betty, who he was married to for 50 years, as well as two sons (Kenneth and Steven) and four grandchildren.

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