Gordon Moore is dead

Gordon E. Moore is dead. The legend of processor technology died on Friday at the age of 94 surrounded by his family in Hawaii. Moore co-founded Intel Corporation with Robert Noyce in 1968 and held senior positions at the company for decades. He is most often cited with Moore’s Law.

Moore’s name is inextricably linked to the rapid development in the chip sector. Born in San Francisco in 1929, Moore studied chemistry and physics. After his university career, he was a researcher at the semiconductor developer Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory when he resigned with seven colleagues in 1957 and founded the new company Fairchild Semiconductor (now part of the onsemi company). In 1965 he formulated Moore’s law, which was named after him, according to which the complexity of chips – the number of transistors – doubles about every 18 months.

However, Moore did not expect this exponential development to be sustainable in the long term. Moore’s Law has lasted much longer than the author expected, but strictly speaking it is no longer valid today. Processors are now being further developed in a variety of ways.

In May 1968, Moore co-founded a new company with Robert Noyce (died 1990): Intel Corporation. In 1959, Noyce showed how photochemical lithography can be used to apply transistors, diodes and resistors to a monolithic silicon substrate.

Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce

Andy Grove, Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce

Intel’s first employee (and later CEO) Andy Grove with company founders Gordon Moore and Roberty Noyce in a 1970s photo.

(Image: Intel)

The company of the two scientists rose to become the world market leader in various chip classes. Moore was initially executive vice president, from 1975 president and from 1979 chief executive officer (CEO) and chairman of the board of directors. In 1987 he handed over the CEO post to Andrew Grove. For ten years he changed to the position of Emeritus Chairman.

Gordon Moore officially retired in 2001. “Gordon started when exactly one single transistor could be accommodated on a chip and helped shape the progress to today’s multi-million processors,” said Linley Gwennap of the Linley Group analysts at the time. “He’s like the dean of Silicon Valley’s semiconductor industry,” added Cypress Semiconductor CEO TJ Rodgers at the time. In fact, Moore continued to work for Intel until 2006.

His entrepreneurial success enabled Moore to engage in charitable work on a large scale. First he founded the Moore Family Foundation, then in 2000 together with his wife Betty the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. According to its own statements, the latter has so far spent 5.1 billion US dollars for charitable purposes. Environmental protection, science and improving patient care were particularly important to the couple.

“Those of us who have met and worked with Gordon will always be inspired by his wisdom, humility and generosity,” said Foundation President Harvey Fineberg on Friday. “His and Betty’s generosity as philanthropists will impact the world for generations to come.”

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Gordon Moore on Moore’s Law


“Gordon was a brilliant scientist and one of America’s leading entrepreneurs,” added Intel Chairman Frank D. Yeary, “It is impossible to imagine the world we live in today, where computing is so essential to our lives , without the contributions of Gordon Moore.”

Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore

(Image: dpa, Intel)

“Gordon Moore defined the tech industry through his insight and vision,” said current Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger. “He was instrumental in discovering the power of transistors and has inspired engineers and businesses for decades. We remain with Intel inspired by Moore’s Law, and intend to pursue it until the periodic table is exhausted.”

Among the many awards the man received during his lifetime are the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the IEEE Medal of Honor and the Marconi Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award, in addition to the highest civilian decoration in the United States.

Moore is survived by his widow Betty (married 1950), two sons and four grandchildren.


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