Some lives span an entire transformation, the complete journey from before to after.
Gordon Moore proposed Moore’s law in 1965: that the number of transistors that could be included on a chip would double roughly every two years. That prediction held up for at least half a century, and may have a bit more road to run.
Mr. Moore cofounded Intel, one of the companies that turned his “law” into reality — but now, after a long, lucrative, and ultimately philanthropic life, has himself run out of road.
Moore was one of “the traitorous eight” who abandoned William Shockley, a co-inventor of the transistor and, later, a leading scientific racism advocate, to form a rival firm to Shockley’s, Fairchild Semiconductor. Then with one other of the eight, Robert Noyce, schismed again to start Intel; the new company soon focused on the creation of what would be called integrated circuits–systems of transistors–on wafers of silicon…a concept that launched, among much else, just about every device that does computation today, including the one on which I write this.
He had a long life–when he died yesterday, he was 94–and a creative one. I never met him, but I know some folks who did, and he seems to have been a good guy at the level of ordinary human interaction. Along the way, he helped transform how humans live in the world. Crucially, in this age of tech-bro political assholery, he doesn’t seem to have seen his wealth as conferring on him the right to tell the rest of how to live in our new circumstances. And he chose fairly early on to dispose of much of his wealth in the service of ends other than a new superyacht.
Moore came into this world in 1929, months before the start of the Great Depression. He was a kid during World War II–the first war that pitted one side’s scientists against the other’s in a a war fought across intellectual and geographic front lines. By the time he died there was almost no corner of the world in which he could not have found traces of his work. Not bad.
RIP Gordon Moore.
The thread is open.
Image: James Seymour, Jumping the gate, before 1752.
Requiescat in pace, Gordon Moore.
My father worked at one of the successors to Fairchild, National Semiconductor, for my entire childhood. I myself designed microchips for a few years before finding my calling in software and cloud computing.
It is no small thing to say that I would not be here if not for Gordon Moore.
More like him, please.
The horse looks to me like it is emulating the dog but will surely fail and be caught a-straddle the gate.
Holy motherboard, Batman!
RIP, Gordon Moore. My life owes a lot to him and the creation of the chip that drove the computer revolution. At 77, my wife and just signed up at a senior retirement community, thanks to my career in computing we are able to afford it. I spent yesterday cleaning out a closet downstairs of all the parts and electronic doodads I had accumulated for over 30 years. It was a like seeing my life flash before my eyes. Thanks to him, and the others that sparked the computer revolution, I had a good career, which I enjoyed. RIP, Gordon Moore. We sign the lease April 30th, and move in the first week in May. We concluded the three stories of our 3,200 square feet were getting hard to negotiate and maintain. C’est la Vie. But we already have many friends in the retirement community to which we are moving, and the meals are like eating at a gourmet restaurant every day, but proper portions and nutritionally sound. We are basking in relief.
I think one of the important lessons of the early integrated electronics days in California is that it’s important to cultivate an environment where people can move on to new opportunities. Even when I was in grad school in Ohio in the mid-late 1980s, we were always hearing about engineers moving from company to company every 2-3-4 years, getting raises, because the industry was so dynamic and progress was so rapid.
Nobody wants to be an assistant manager at Arby’s for 15 years.
Yeah, available capital is important.
But human mobility is most important. (Andy Grove came to the US from Budapest.)
Tying people to a job that they can’t leave because of health insurance or starvation wages or … hurts us all. I hope people look back on those days and draw the correct lessons (mobility, capital, government research support, etc., etc.).
I’m an Intel alumni. I listened to Gordon Moore once in a large auditorium. He spoke well, kinda like listening to a good professor. Intel could be a very pushy place to work. I happened to have a somewhat scarce, highly useful set of skills which insulated me a bit. The wild boom times of the 1990’s funded my comfortable retirement.
Wombat Probability Cloud
I’m saddened by his passing, also. The Foundation generously funded some major conservation efforts in South America, including establishment of new national parks and wildlife refuges, with which I was involved in the 2000s. He and his wife did put their good where it would do the most.
It’s a treat to read about a billionaire who actually created something and gave his money in conventional philanthropy without making any effort to screw up the country.
Sounds… familiar somehow…
RIP, Mr. Moore. One of the good ‘uns.
Whenever I see that last name, I hear it in my head being said by the Beastie Boys.
This may have been discussed in the early morning threads (well, early for me), but did we have any Jackals or their relatives in the path of the tornadoes? It sounds like it was absolutely devastating.
Mai Naem mobile
Intel has had a huge impact in Phoenix. Its one of the few long term companies here that isn’t related to construction or tourism. Its been a good corporate citizen. Its one of the reasons ASU has a pretty good engineering school. I know several people who either work at Intel or worked at Intel and then have gone off to do stuff on their own. RIP Gordon Moore.
Bought myself a Mac Studio a few months ago. The price (in today’s devalued dollars) was about the same as the price in dollars of the IBM PC I bought in the early 1980’s— but each of the specs for the new system is about a million times larger than the corresponding spec for the old one. I don’t claim to have an obvious use for the ridiculously powerful computer now sitting on my desk, but I think people will go ahead and purchase systems that are far more powerful than they actually need. One can wonder where this excess will lead…
Just wanted to highlight this. The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, which they endowed with something like $6 billion, supports an awful lot of basic and applied research over a wide range of fields.
A friend of mine sent this:
Imagine being an intern and having your cube across the aisle from the CEO’s.
You mention other reasons employees might not be able to move, but a big one these days is non-compete contracts. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they’re illegal in the home of the tech industry. I think it would be a huge win for workers if the Biden Administration manages to ban them nationwide.
When my future husband and I met in 1991, I had the fatter salary as a hydrogeologist doing environmental work and he was a software developer. My career cratered in the recessions of the early 1990’s and his went on to be the reason we could retire early, so I appreciate Mr Moore’s work and what it brought to the world in general and our little personal patch of it.
Imagine being at a billion dollar company where the CEO has a cubicle rather than an office suite.
@Alison Rose: Have you seen Robert Noyce’s photograph back in the day? The man looks like a leading man in Hollywood. Classic good looks with a hero chin.
I work for Intel, so (and did for 20 years before coming back again last year) and he was always a legend there. Andy Grove, also – Andy used to come down to the fabs and just didn’t care who you were would just start asking questions about process and what not.
I ran into him right after I got hired. (andy grove that is) literally. We both stop a few inches from each other right we would have collided.
Gordon Moore I believe had already retired or became Chairman of the Board and Andy was CEO. I never got to meet Gordon Moore.
Intel CEO had a fun anecdote about him.
It’s the end of an era with all of Intel’s cofounders now gone.
RIP Gordon Moore.
@Roger Moore: I hope so too. I once worked for a consulting company with a noncompete that prevented me from working directly for a client if the client was still a client when I left the company. A client wanted to hire me, so they fired my company, I then left the company and went to work for the client. My company would have been better off if they let me go work for the client and not tried to enforce the noncompete.
@Roger Moore: that too!
@Another Scott: Yeah, so that was hard here in Oregon. Intel was the biggest employer in the state and our salaries were largely much more than the other employers. So if you got laid off – you literally had to leave the state.
Thankfully today we have remote jobs with competitive salaries so you can go around. Otherwise, you had to go to California to do all that.
Yeah, it’s interesting stuff. My bosss boss ended up interacting with executive staff. It was all about Linux. I was part of the story of how Linux showed up at Intel. Good stuff. :)
What a good man. We need more of his kind, and less of the tech bro disrupters.
Silicon Valley is bros gone wild.
@MattF: Agree, it’s crazy how powerful personal computers are today. They would be even cheaper if the overall popularity wasn’t dropping, but the value is amazing, regardless.
Our first PC was a Gateway in the early ’90s–the full kit, including monitor and software, was $4,000 in ’90s dollars. I can’t recall which processor, the HD and memory capacity, but suffice to say an early Win-Pentium machine that by today’s expectations was pretty crude. A rocket ship compared to the typical office PC.
After an unexpected sudden death of my home office PC last November, I spec’d a photo-centric box at a custom builder. $3k seemed like a lot but no off-the-shelf machine was hitting all the marks. This thing is screaming fast and simple operations that formerly took…a lot of seconds to complete now happen more or less in real time. When I’m plowing through a set of 3,000 event photos that capacity buys me hours of time.
Which brings me back to Mr. Moore and his fellow propellorheads who have been busy the last four decades proving he was correct, again and again and again. A long life well lived.
More and better porn, silly.
My sister now lives in a Miss. suburb of Memphis but for many years prior lived in the area of the Mississippi Delta where the tornadoes cut a swath last evening. Because she has “cut the cord” I happened to tune in to the Weather Channel after they had gone live with coverage and just before the tornado decimated Rolling Fork.
We then kept a text conversation going for the next hour and half until it exited Mississippi for Alabama. The delta is really really flat and there was nothing to slow the tornado down most of its 90 plus mile track across the state. The other thing to note is that Mississippi has a lot of very very small towns with the predictable lack of services to accompany them. Many of the victims were likely African American residents of the areas hardest hit, since they are the majority of folks who still labor in those agricultural areas. One of the towns in the path, Smithville, which is near the Alabama border and southeast of Tupelo, was itself a victim of an EF-5 Tornado in 2011 which killed over 15 folks.
Prior to last evening’s weather events, and for the previous two months or more, there was not a week that the state and surrounding ones didn’t experience a major weather event, with one front after another coming through and occasionally spinning off their own tornadoes. Climate change is real, as Gavin Newsome recently opined in the face of the atmospheric rivers that his state has experienced over the same time period.
Another Mac Studio recent purchaser here. I like speed in computing – overall speed so I don’t waste time – time being of the essence of course…. But the entire system is amazing and I bought my first computer in 1978 so I have a basis of comparison that spans decades. I also not long ago gave away my first iMac, a 2012 21.5 in model. And just had to help the person with that and man is that thing slow in comparison. Painfully slow. In 2012 it wasn’t bad at all. life comes at you fast and it keeps coming at you faster and faster.
Muddy Waters was born in or near Rolling Fork depending on your source of information. I once drove there on a self guided tour of Highway 61 and surroundings. Very small town.
Dead thread, but wanted to add my thanks to Mr. Moore for two careers – avionics and computer science. Much like his admin, I figure I’ll be working into my 70s, partly b/c I love what I do and partly b/c I have a house note. Thanks to him, I may be able to pull it off.
@mvr: it’s amazing how many blues musicians, and artists of all sorts came out of the Mississippi Delta.