Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, dies at age 94

March 26, 2023

Intel Corp. co-founder Gordon Moore, famous also for his prognostications about the pace and consequences of innovation within the tech industry, died Friday at the age of 94, as the New York Times reports.

The computer industry legend's death was confirmed by Intel as well as by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, through which much of the billionaire's noteworthy philanthropy was channeled over the decades.

Groundbreaking career

A California native, Moore's curious tendencies emerged early, when he became fascinated by chemistry sets, as NPR notes.

Moore carried those interests throughout his educational journey, starting at San Jose State College, moving on to the University of California at Berkeley, eventually earning a Ph.D. from the California University of Technology and then spending time at John Hopkins University as a researcher.

Making his way back to California in the mid-1950s, Moore went to work with William Shockley, one of the transistor's co-inventors, subsequently left to form the Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, and then ultimately helped found the Integrated Electronics Corporation – which would come to be known simply as Intel, according to the Times.

It was there that Moore and his colleagues decided to focus on a new technology known as “silicon gate MOS” in which multiple transistors were interconnected on a single piece of silicon, and by placing aluminum wires atop the structure, an integrated circuit was created. As Moore later explained, “[v]ery much by luck, we had hit on a technology that had just the right degree of difficulty for a successful start-up.”

Pioneering spirit

As the Times further notes, the Intel 4000 series “computer on a chip” jumpstarted the personal computer revolution in the early 1970s, despite the fact that Intel never manufactured its own PC.

Years later, Moore attributed that lamentable fact to his own blind spot on the issue, saying, “Long before Apple, one of our engineers came to me with the suggestion that Intel ought to build a computer for the home. And I asked him, 'What the heck would anyone want a computer for in his home?'”

Even so, Moore will long be remembered as a visionary with regard to a particular observation of his that has become famous for its prescience in terms of the pace of technological advancement in the industry he helped pioneer.

Known far and wide as “Moore's Law,” the prediction – made in the context of transistors on semiconductors – essentially said that approximately every 18 months, a new generation of advancements will render predecessor products obsolete, something that has since been applied to computer monitors, hard drives, and a host of other electronic devices.

“Humility and generosity”

According to the Times, Moore's net worth was estimated in 2014 to stand at roughly $7 billion, though the man himself favored a modest lifestyle that included casual attire and shopping trips to Costco.

In keeping with that philosophy, Moore and his wife created the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000, which has contributed over $5.1 billion in the intervening years to a host of charitable causes including those related to science, patient care, and the environment, according to NPR.

Harvey Feinberg, president of the foundation, remarked on the occasion of Moore's passing, “Those of us who have met and worked with Gordon will forever be inspired by his wisdom, humility, and generosity.”

Moore is survived by wife Betty, to whom he was married for 50 years, two sons, and four grandchildren, as well as countless engineers and scientists who have been inspired by the innovations he spurred and the entrepreneurial spirit he embodied.

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