Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, a pioneer in the semiconductor industry whose “Moore’s Law” predicted a steady increase in computing power for decades, died Friday at the age of 94, the company announced.
Intel (INTC) and Moore’s family philanthropic foundation said he died surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii.
Co-launching Intel in 1968, Moore was the rolled-up-sleeves engineer within a triumvirate of technology luminaries that eventually put “Intel Inside” processors in more than 80% of personal computers in world.
In an article he wrote in 1965, Moore observed that, thanks to improvements in technology, the number of transistors in microchips had roughly doubled every year since the invention of integrated circuits a few years earlier.
His prediction that the trend would continue became known as “Moore’s Law” and, eventually revised every two years, it helped push Intel and rival chipmakers to aggressively target their research and development resources. development to ensure that the rule of thumb is true.
“Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers – or at least terminals connected to a central computer – automatic controls for vehicles, and personal portable communication equipment, ” Moore wrote in his paper, two decades before the PC revolution and more than 40 years before Apple launched the iPhone.
After Moore’s article, chips became better and cheaper at an exponential rate, helping to drive most of the world’s technological progress for half a century and allowing the advent of not only personal computer, but the internet and Silicon Valley giants like Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG).
“It was definitely nice to be in the right place at the right time,” Moore said in a 2005 interview. “I was very fortunate to get into the semiconductor industry in its infancy. And I had the opportunity to grow from that time. could make a silicon transistor to the time where we put 1.7 billion of them on a chip! It’s been an amazing ride.”
In recent years, Intel’s rivals such as Nvidia (NVDA) It has been argued that Moore’s Law no longer holds because improvements in chip manufacturing have slowed.
But despite manufacturing errors that have caused Intel to lose market share in recent years, current CEO Pat Gelsinger says he believes Moore’s Law still holds as the company invests billions of dollars in a turnaround effort.
Although he predicted the PC movement, Moore told Forbes magazine that he didn’t buy a home computer himself until the late 1980s.
A San Francisco native, Moore earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and physics in 1954 at the California Institute of Technology.
He worked at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory where he met future Intel cofounder Robert Noyce. Part of the “traitorous eight,” they left in 1957 to launch Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1968, Moore and Noyce left Fairchild to start the memory chip company soon to be named Intel, an acronym for Integrated Electronics.
Moore and Noyce’s first hire was another Fairchild colleague, Andy Grove, who would lead Intel through much of its explosive growth in the 1980s and 1990s.
Moore described himself in Fortune magazine as a “accidental entrepreneur” who had no burning desire to start a company — but he, Noyce and Grove formed a powerhouse partnership.
While Noyce had theories about how to solve chip engineering problems, Moore was the man who rolled up his sleeves and spent countless hours tweaking transistors and refining extensive and sometimes were Noyce’s unspecified ideas, efforts that often paid off. Grove fills the group as Intel’s operations and management expert.
Moore’s obvious talent also inspired other engineers working for him, and, under his and Noyce’s leadership, Intel invented the microprocessors that would pave the way for the personal computer revolution.
He was executive president until 1975 although he and CEO Noyce considered themselves equals. From 1979 to 1987 Moore was chairman and CEO and he remained chairman until 1997.
In 2023 Forbes magazine estimated his net worth at $7.2 billion.
Moore is a longtime sport fisherman, pursuing his passion around the world and in 2000 he and his wife, Betty, started a foundation dedicated to environmental causes. The foundation, which has undertaken projects such as protecting the Amazon River basin and salmon streams in the US, Canada and Russia, was funded by Moore’s donation of about $5 billion in Intel stock.
He also gave hundreds of millions to his alma mater, the California Institute of Technology, to keep it at the forefront of technology and science, and supported the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence project known as SETI.
Moore received the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, from President George W. Bush in 2002. He and his wife have two children.