Gordon Moore’s ‘Guest Post’ was Published in Electronics on April 19, 1965
“Integrated circuits will lead to wonders such as home computers, or at least terminals connected to a central computer, automatic controls for automobiles and personal portable communications equipment,” Gordon Moore said in a story for Electronics Magazine that was published on April 19, 1965.
Georgia Tech made this paper available via this PDF. It’s a nice reprint because it has key sections highlighted and is easily accessible.
On March 24, 2023, the co-founder of Intel and Fairchild Semiconductor Gordon Moore passed. He was 94. Many of us in tech had the pleasure of meeting him. He could often be found shaking hands at major Silicon Valley tech events. He started his undergrad degree at San Jose State University, finished at UC Berkeley and went on to earn a PhD in physical sciences from Caltech. The photo of Moore below was published in IEEE Spectrum and taken by Oliver Koning. I like it because it shows his California roots. He was born in San Francisco.
I met Moore at the Computer History Museum: My IBM VC Group colleague introduced me to him. He was pleasant and low key: We posed for a photo together. He is known as the technologist who came up with the concept of Moore’s law in 1965.
The reason the ‘law’ is much talked about is that it has to also do with cost effectiveness and the miniaturization of electronics. Some call it the basis of the digital revolution. This has driven many facets of the tech industry over the past 55+ years.
Did you know that the concept resulted from a PR ‘guest post’ opportunity? Okay, it wasn’t technically a post because it was printed in a hard copy magazine but that’s what we call them today. A ‘post’ refers to something published online usually on a media outlet’s website. Byliner is another name for it.
In the early 1960s, an Electronics journalist asked Moore to write an expert paper for the magazine and make a prediction. It became Moore’s law. It wasn’t called a law yet. In 1975, a decade after the paper was published, a professor at Caltech started popularizing the term “Moore’s law.” That stuck. That was good PR for Caltech because Moore received his PhD there.
Moore’s law is simply that the number of integrated circuit transistors doubles every two years. It’s an observation and projection of a historical trend.
It’s not actually a law of physics despite the label. It’s, according to Wikipedia, “an empirical relationship linked to gains from experience in production.”
Does Moore’s Law hold true today? Some argue it does but my husband, David McIntyre, a director of product planning for a multi-billion dollar tech company says it really depends because not all semiconductors have remained monolithic.
Here is a graph that explains the relationship between ICs and semiconductors:
Semiconductors, sometimes referred to as integrated circuits (ICs) or microchips, are made from pure elements, typically silicon or germanium, or compounds such as gallium arsenide…Due to their role in the fabrication of electronic devices, semiconductors are an important part of our lives. Imagine life without electronic devices. There would be no smartphones, radios, TVs, computers, video games, or advanced medical diagnostic equipment.” – Semiconductor(dot)org website
If you want to learn more about Moore’s law, I recommend reading John Markoff‘s NYTimes stories like this one. By the way, a note for my PR friends — check out the photo in the Markoff story. It’s by Paul Sakuma formerly Associated Press. He’s a fantastic photographer for hire and a friend of the PR folks in Silicon Valley.
The Passing of a Tech Legend:
Rest in peace Gordon Moore who died a few days ago. Thanks for writing that ‘guest post.’ Your words had a huge impact on the way people described technology for many years and is still referenced in stories, speeches, technical papers, PhD dissertations, and books today.
Michelle McIntyre is a Silicon Valley-based PR consultant and IBM vet celebrating 10 years in business, working for herself, this year. She recently joined the PRSA Silicon Valley board of directors. Her favorite clients have been in AI, robotics, martech, collaboration, data analytics, and venture capital. She lives in Saratoga, Calif., with her husband and big dog. Her son, a UC Berkeley student, has done math research at Georgia Tech and UConn.