Early Life

Gordon Earle Moore was born on January 3, 1929, in San Francisco, California. He was raised in a nearby town, Pescadero, where his father was elected the county sheriff. He graduated from Sequoia High School in Redwood City before enrolling at the San Jose State University. Gordon attended San Jose for two years before transferring to the University of California in Berkeley.

He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry in 1950. On September 9th of the same year, Gordon Moore married the love of his life, Betty I. Whitaker. Without skipping a beat, Moore enrolled at the California Institute of Technology, affectionately known as Caltech. At Caltech, he minored in physics and earned his Ph.D. in chemistry by 1954. He also conducted postdoctoral research at John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory from 1953 to 1956.

Quick Facts

Full Name
Gordon Earle Moore
Birth
January 3, 1929
Net Worth
$12.6 billion (Updated March 2021)
Awards
  • National Medal of Technology – 1990
  • John Fritz Medal – 1993
  • IEEE Founders Medal – 1997
  • Computer History Museum Fellow – 1998
  • Othmer Gold Medal – 2001
  • Perkin Medal – 2004
  • Nierenberg Prize – 2006
  • IEEE Medal of Honor – 2008
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom
Children
2
Nationality
American
Place of Birth
San Francisco, California
Fields of Expertise
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Entrepreneurship
Institutions
Intel, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, California Institute of Technology, John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
Contributions
Intel, Moore’s Law, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Career

Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory

Moore found his first research position at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, led by William Shockley. While there, Gordon Moore was part of a research team who found themselves at odds with Shockley’s leadership decisions. Along with a group of seven others, Moore became a part of what Shockley dubbed the “traitorous eight”.

The traitorous eight consisted of Julius Blank, Victor Grinich, Jean Hoerni, Eugen Kleiner, Jay Last, Robert Noyce, Sheldon Roberts, and Gordon Moore, who coincidentally were some of the laboratory’s youngest in age. After Shockley’s actions grew increasingly paranoid over protecting the research and production of transistors and diodes, the group went over his head to Arnold Beckman and demanded that Shockley be replaced. Unfortunately, Beckman eventually agreed with Shockley regarding the developments and decisions that had been made.

As a reaction, the traitorous eight left the lab and looked for another way to garner backing for their research. The group sought support from Fairchild Camera and Instrument. In 1957, they found their backing and formed the Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory much to Shockley’s chagrin.

Moore’s Law

While still employed as the director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor, Moore was asked by Electronics Magazine to predict the future of semiconductor components over the next ten years. He published his answer on April 19, 1965. He had observed that the number of components (transistors, resistors, diodes, or capacitors) used in a dense integrated circuit board for computer chips would double about every year. He speculated that this doubling would continue for at least the next ten years.

In 1975, he changed his evaluation to match the evolution of the industry. Instead of the components doubling in density every year, he predicted that the change would now happen every two years. These publications led to Carver Mead coining one of the most popular terms in technology, “Moore’s Law.” While Moore’s Law was intended to be an observation of the rate the semiconductor industry could make improvements, it later became a driving factor for the semiconductor industry which now set its goal to double the density of integrated computer chips every two years.

Intel Corporation

Entrance of The Intel Museum in Silicon Valley.
Santa Clara, California, USA – March 29, 2018: Entrance of The Intel Museum in Silicon Valley. Intel is an American multinational corporation and technology company.

In July of 1968, two members of the traitorous eight who founded Fairchild Semiconductor Laboratory, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, founded NM Electronics. NM Electronics is now commonly known as the Intel Corporation. Moore served as the executive vice president of the company until 1975 when he became the company’s president.

Moore’s time at Intel was more than significant as the company pioneered new technology such as computer memory, integrated circuits, and microprocessor designs. Moore changed his position from president to chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) in April 1979 until April 1987, when he dropped the position of CEO and remained the company’s chairman.

Gordon Moore had such a profound influence on the company that in 2022, Intel renamed its Oregon campus to Gordon Moore Park and even changed the building formerly known as RA4 to the Moore Center.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Moore didn’t stop working for the tech community. In 2000, Gordon and his wife, Betty I. Whitaker, established the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation with an initial gift worth around $5 billion as something of a family endeavor. The foundation was established to help target environmental conservation, scientific endeavors, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has used its funds to improve his alma maters of Caltech of the University of California. In 2007, the foundation donated $200 million for the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope which should be completed sometime in the mid-2020s.

What Is Gordon Moore Known For?

Gordon Moore is one of the great innovators in the American semiconductor industry. He was known as a technology philosopher, philanthropist, and engineer, and helped to build and create Silicon Valley. His inventions centered around the components of computer chips and circuit boards. That is not how most of the world knows his name.

Moore is most commonly known for his observations and predictions about the growth of the semiconductor industry. He predicted that the density of components on integrated circuits would double yearly for ten years starting in 1965 and ending in 1975. At the end of his accurate prediction, he revised his prediction to state that the density would double about every two years. This rate of change in semiconductor and circuit board technology is known as “Moore’s Law.”

Many use the term in quotes to describe the change in the power of technology and new possibilities. While this is somewhat accurate, it specifically refers to the size and density of components on integrated circuit boards.

Lesser known is the specific work Moore performed to help create large-scale integrated memory and even microprocessors as a whole. In some ways, he can be credited as a father of modern-day advancements in computing as well as the father of Intel.

Gordon Moore: Marriage, Divorce, Children, and Personal Life

Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore is best-known for his success in the semiconductor industry.

Net Worth

In March 2021, Gordon Moore’s net worth is estimated to be $12.6 billion. As of 2022, his net worth is estimated to have dropped to around $7.6 billion.

Marriage

Gordon Moore married Betty I. Whitaker on September 9th, 1950 at the young age of 21. The two have been happily married since and even run a philanthropic foundation named after both of them, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

Children

The Moore family had two sons: Kenneth Moore and Steven Moore.

Gordon Moore: Awards and Achievements

National Academy of Engineering, 1976

Moore was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering due to his contributions to semiconductor devices such as transistors and microprocessors.

National Medal of Technology and Innovation, 1990

In 1990, President George H.W. Bush awarded Moore with the National medal of Technology and Innovation “for his seminal leadership in bringing American industry the two major postwar innovations in microelectronics – large-scale integrated memory and the microprocessor.”

Computer History Museum Fellow, 1998

The very same work that prompted President Bush to honor Moore with a presidential medal earned him a position as a Fellow of the Computer History Museum. His work on fundamental components and design laid the foundation for innovation for decades. It lead to the technology the modern world has become accustomed to and helped the Intel Corporation to become the technology industry giant it is today.

Othmer Gold Medal, 2001

In 2001, he was awarded the Othmer Gold medal for the same contributions. This award also recognized his contributions to the chemistry used and innovated to help create microelectronics.

Presidential Medal of Freedom, 2002

In 2002, Moore was awarded the highest civilian honor available by President George W. Bush. The innovations of microelectronics had begun to form into something completely unrecognizable from the original design and the world could now see it. The internet had begun to become commonplace which in turn meant that Moore’s and Intel’s innovations were making a much larger impact than the common man thought possible.

Bower Award, 2002

For his dedication and performance as a leader at Intel, Moore was awarded the Bower Award for Business Leadership in 2002.

American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2003

In line with many of his previous achievements, Moore was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

IEEE Medal of Honor, 2008

In 2008, he was awarded the IEEE Medal of Honor for “pioneering technical roles in integrated-circuit processing, leadership in the development of MOS memory, the microprocessor computer, and the semiconductor industry.

National Inventors Hall of Fame, 2009

In 2009, Moore was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Dan David Prize, 2010

He was also awarded the Dan David Prize for the impact his computer work had on Computers and Telecommunications as a whole.

Gordon Moore Published Works and Books

  • Infrared Studies of Nitrous Acid, the Chloramines, and Nitrogen-Dioxide
  • Observations Concerning the Photochemical Decomposition of Nitric-Oxide, 1954

Gordon Moore Quotes

  • “The computer is really a useful gadget for consuming time.”
  • “I define myself as the accidental entrepreneur.”
  • “I remember the difficulty we had, in the beginning, replacing magnetic cores in memories, and eventually we had both cost and performance advantages. But it wasn’t at all clear in the beginning.”
  • “With engineering, I view this year’s failure as next year’s opportunity to try it again. Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly.”
  • “The technology at the leading edge changes so rapidly that you have to keep current after you get out of school. I think probably the most important thing is having good fundamentals.”
  • “I think Caltech fills a unique role, and it’s not a cheap one. Their small size allows them to do interdisciplinary work a lot more effectively than anyplace else I know.”

Gordon Earle Moore FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Who was Gordon Moore?

Gordon Moore is one of the two founders of the Intel Corporation and a huge factor in driving the American semiconductor industry. He is more famously known for his observations about the rate of change in technology. Specifically, he predicted that the density of components on an integrated circuit board would double yearly from 1965 to 1975. He later revised this observation noting that the change would occur around every two years.

Other than his contribution to what has been dubbed “Moore’s Law”, Gordon Moore was, and in some ways still is, a driving force behind the innovation in semiconductor technology. His inventions fueled the semiconductor industry to become the driving force behind the modern world.

When was Gordon Moore born?

Gordon Moore was born on January 3 of 1929 in San Francisco, California. His family resided in a small town nearby where he remained from an early age until after graduating high school.

What did Gordon Moore invent?

Gordon Moore is responsible for the research and development of components in microelectronics and semiconductors such as microprocessors, transistors, MOS memory, and nearly every component used on integrated-circuit boards and their compositions. As a chemist and engineer in the 1950s, Moore was an instrumental part in creating the components needed to make microelectronics and modern-day computers a reality. His inventions include the microprocessor itself.

He is also a co-founder of the world-renowned company, Intel Corporation.

What is Moore’s Law?

Moore’s Law is a term coined by Carver Mead and often used in quotes across the technology industry which describes the observations made and published by Gordon Moore in April 1965. The observations stated that the density of components on integrated-circuit boards would double yearly for ten years until 1975. In 1975, Moore revised his observation to state that the same changes would occur every two years rather than one.

Moore’s Law was originally intended to be an observation and prediction by an industry professional. It became a target goal for the semiconductor industry to push. Every year, the industry only considered its efforts successful if it kept up with the prediction of doubling the components used. In turn, microelectronics and the products created from them gained functionality exponentially. The smaller the components were, the more the industry could pack into them. This, in turn, meant that their products could do more and faster.

Is Gordon Moore still alive?

Gordon Moore still lives in 2022 at the ripe age of 93. He is only active in the industry as a philanthropist through the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Most of his time is spent on recreational fishing and family gatherings.

When will Moore’s Law end?

Moore’s Law is predicted to end sometime in the 2020s. The size of components can only be reduced so much before creating smaller components becomes impossible. The heat created by semiconductors, which conduct electricity, requires components to keep the circuit boards cool and the pathways open. As there are physical limitations, in reality, these parts can only become so small before they can not perform as intended.

While it is projected that Moore’s Law will end in the 2020s, this may not be the case. TSMC, Samsung, and Intel are hard at work to create even tinier architecture for their microprocessors to enable even smaller technology to accommodate the growing internet of things. It may have also been pushed back due to the slow-down in the supply chain caused by the economic reactions to the global pandemic of 2020.

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