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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

From homemade nitroglycerine to Intel: Meet Gordon Moore

Critics have had half a century to pick apart and predict the end of Moore’s Law, which marked its Big Five Zero birthday this week.

It’s unlikely that Gordon Earle Moore, the former electrical engineer who authored the eponymous law for a 1965 article, and who two-years later co-founded Intel, has any doubts over its value.

After all, he can see the beach clearly from his estate in Hawaii and he puts his $6.7bn estimated fortune to good use: the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has contributed more than $250m to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on the summit of Mauna Kea on Big Island, due to go operational in 2024.

Over the years Gordon Moore has often described himself as “an accidental entrepreneur” as a result of his early work with transistors that contributed directly to the invention of the all-pervasive integrated circuit.

Born in San Francisco, California, in 1929, Gordon Moore abused his childhood chemistry sets to create nitroglycerine and dynamite in a makeshift lab in his family home before leaving to study at Berkeley and Caltech.

He completed a PhD in chemistry and physics, and then began conducting further research at the applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University.

His work with processing componentry began in anger at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory before he left to help create the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation.

It was there in 1965 when working as the director of R&D that he contributed to Electronics Magazine and made the semiconductor industry prediction that we now know as Moore’s Law.

In 1968 Moore, together with Robert Noyce and Andrew Grove, left Fairchild Semiconductor and used their unique integrated electronics insights to found Intel. The vision of Moore and his colleagues was entirely justified.

Moore served as Intel CEO between 1975 and 1987, bookended by his colleagues Noyce and Grove, and Intel grew rapidly (regardless of a lack of exponential predictions) to become the $154bn company we know (and possibly love) today.

At one point Intel was half of the power duo called Wintel that dominated personal computing with Microsoft. Such events conspired to cement Moore's status as a technology visionary and a business legend.

In the land of Silicon Valley, where people are self made, Moore was enviable for having articulated a future and for then taking people there, delivering technology and fortune.

Next page: It's not a law

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