Moore, a modern technological transformation pioneer, helped companies bring more powerful chips to smaller computers.
Gordon Moore, a pioneer in the microprocessor industry and a co-founder of Intel, which at one time was the world’s largest semiconductor maker, has died at the age of 94.
Intel and Moore’s family philanthropic foundation said he died on Friday surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii.
Moore was a giant in the technological transformation of the modern age, helping companies bring ever more powerful chips to smaller and smaller computers. An engineer by training, he co-founded Intel in July 1968, eventually serving as president, chief executive and chairman of the board.
In an article he wrote in 1965, Moore observed that, thanks to improvements in technology, the number of transistors on microchips had roughly doubled every year since integrated circuits were invented a few years before.
His prediction that the trend would continue became known as “Moore’s Law” and, later amended to every two years, it helped push Intel and rival chipmakers to aggressively target their research and development resources to make sure that rule of thumb came true.
“Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers – or at least terminals connected to a central computer – automatic controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment,” Moore wrote in his paper, two decades before the personal computer revolution and more than 40 years before Apple launched the iPhone.
Today, we lost a visionary.
Gordon Moore, thank you for everything. pic.twitter.com/bAiBAtmd9K
— Intel (@intel) March 25, 2023
After Moore’s article, chips became more efficient and less expensive at an exponential rate, helping drive much of the world’s technological progress for half a century and allowing the advent of not just personal computers, but the internet and Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Facebook and Google.
“It sure is nice to be at the right place at the right time,” Moore said in an interview around 2005. “I was very fortunate to get into the semiconductor industry in its infancy. And I had an opportunity to grow from the time where we couldn’t make a single silicon transistor to the time where we put 1.7 billion of them on one chip! It’s been a phenomenal ride.”
In recent years, Intel rivals such as Nvidia Corp have contended that Moore’s Law no longer holds as improvements in chip manufacturing have slowed down.
But despite manufacturing stumbles that have caused Intel to lose market share in recent years, current Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger has said he believes Moore’s Law still holds as the company invests billions of dollars in a turnaround effort.
Morris Chang, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said Moore was a great and respected friend for more than 60 years.
“With Gordon gone, almost all of my first generation semiconductor colleagues are gone,” Chang said in a statement released via TSMC.
Over his lifetime, Moore donated more than $5.1bn to charitable causes through the foundation he set up with his wife of 72 years, Betty.
“Though he never aspired to be a household name, Gordon’s vision and his life’s work enabled the phenomenal innovation and technological developments that shape our everyday lives,” said Harvey Fineberg, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
Leaders of Intel heaped tribute on Moore.
“He was instrumental in revealing the power of transistors, and inspired technologists and entrepreneurs across the decades,” said Intel chief executive Pat Gelsinger.
“He leaves behind a legacy that changed the lives of every person on the planet. His memory will live on,” Gelsinger added on Twitter.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in a tweet that Moore’s vision “inspired so many of us to pursue technology,” while Apple CEO Tim Cook called him “one of Silicon Valley’s founding fathers”.
“All of us who followed owe him a debt of gratitude,” Cook said on Twitter. “May he rest in peace.”