Engineer, Scientist, Billionaire
Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation
Three decades ago, in an obscure industry magazine, a little known
scientist named Gordon Moore postulated what has come to be known as Moore's
Law: He predicted that the power of the silicon chip would double almost annually,
with a proportionate decrease in cost.
With this, he forecast and played a leading role in ushering in the computer revolution.
Cervantes: I was wondering what your interests
were in school?
Moore: I started out when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I got interested in in chemistry. My next door neighbor got a chemistry set for Christmas. I started playing with him and that set. In those days you got really neat chemicals in the chemistry set. You could make explosives and a variety of things.
I got interested in chemistry. My next door neighbor got a chemistry set for Christmas. I started playing with him and that set.
Math came fairly easy for me. I took all the math courses around, but I was interested in athletics, too. In high school, I had four letters in four different sports.
I was never the best, but I was always good enough to play in the
games. I spent a lot more time playing sports than I did doing homework, I
have to admit. It wasn't really until my senior year in high school that I
settled down and really started to study a bit.
I spent a lot more time playing sports than I did doing homework, I have to admit.
Wolfson: Would your friends from high school be surprised at the
level of your success? Would they say 'Gee, I would never have picked him
Moore: That's a hard question to answer. I don't see my high school friends very often. The first time I came back was for my 20th high school reunion. I think they would be somewhat surprised. I certainly wasn't the best student in the class.
Cervantes: What was the big step that took you from science into high tech?
Moore: I finished my training as a scientist, got a Ph.D. in chemistry, took a job working for one of the laboratories that was sponsored by the government. It was the applied physics laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. Doing development of Navy missiles was its principal job.
I was studying some things that were interesting to me and I found myself calculating the cost per word in the published articles, wondering if at $5 per word the tax payer was really getting the benefit out of this work that he should. It was reasonably good fundamental research, but on problems of very narrow interest. So, I thought I maybe should get into something a little more practical.
I was more of an engineer than a scientist in that having some practical outcome from what I did was important. With my chemistry set, I had to get a good explosion at the end or I wasn't happy.
I was fortunate enough to meet up with Bill Shockley, the inventor of the transistor at Bell Labs.
He was setting up a company back in California to try to make this new device, a silicon transistor, and this sounded very attractive to me. I liked the idea of moving back to where I wanted to move. Secondly it was still something with a high technical content, but with a very specific goal in mind. So, I jumped at the opportunity and came out here and joined him.
I guess, by inclination, I was more of an engineer than a scientist in that having some practical outcome from what I did was important. With my chemistry set, I had to get a good explosion at the end or I wasn't happy.
Gordon E. Moore
Chairman Emeritus of the board
Gordon E. Moore is currently Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation. Moore co-founded Intel in 1968, serving initially as Executive Vice President. He became President and Chief Executive Officer in 1975 and held that post until elected Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in 1979. He remained CEO until 1987 and was named Chairman Emeritus in 1997.
Moore is widely known for "Moore's Law," in which he predicted that the number of transistors the industry would be able to place on a computer chip would double every couple of years. In 1995, he updated his prediction to once every two years. While originally intended as a rule of thumb in 1965, it has become the guiding principle for the industry to deliver ever-more-powerful semiconductor chips at proportionate decreases in cost.
Moore earned a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley and a Ph.D. in Chemistry and Physics from the California Institute of Technology. He was born in San Francisco, Calif., on Jan. 3, 1929.
He is a director of Gilead
Sciences Inc., a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow
of the IEEE. Moore also serves on the Board of Trustees of the California
Institute of Technology. He received the National Medal of Technology from
President George Bush in 1990.