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Gordon Moore and Carver Mead

October 17, 2005

Issue #101705

Author: Tom R. Halfhill - Senior Editor

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Moore’s law, the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley invited Dr. Gordon Moore and Dr. Carver Mead to talk about the law, reminisce about Moore’s distinguished career in the semiconductor industry, and discuss other topics. On the evening of September 29, the museum’s auditorium filled to capacity with an eager crowd of museum members and guests. Microprocessor Report recorded and transcribed this special event.

Moore first made the observation known as Moore’s law in an Electronics magazine article in 1965. But it was Mead, a professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), who made Moore’s law famous. Moore’s original article didn’t explicitly state the law in layperson’s language and never referred to it as a law. It was Mead who boiled down Moore’s technical observations about circuit integration and coined the term “Moore’s law.” Since then, Moore’s law has captured the popular imagination to the extent that it’s often misquoted and misapplied to other technologies. (See MPR 12/13/04, “Viewpoint: The Mythology of Moore’s Law.”)

Mead and Moore go back a long way. Mead received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Caltech in 1959 and taught there for more than 40 years. Mead first met Moore in the late 1950s, and they have been friends ever since. In 1980, Mead and Lynn Conway wrote Introduction to VLSI Systems, one of the most important textbooks in the field of IC design. Mead is also the founder and chairman of Foveon.

Moore began his long career in the semiconductor industry in the 1950s at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, headed by the mercurial William Shockley, who won a Nobel Prize for coinventing the transistor. Irritated by Shockley’s abrasive management style, Moore and seven other engineers (dubbed the Traitorous Eight) left to found Fairchild Semiconductor in 1957. Later, Moore joined with other engineers to found Intel in 1968.

The anniversary event at the Computer History Museum was hosted by Dave House, a museum trustee. House, now retired, spent 22 years at Intel. Among other things, he managed the team that developed the successful “Intel Inside” marketing campaign for the Pentium processor.

Microprocessor Report readers can access the full story (10 pages; 3 photos) here: www.mdronline.com/mpr/h/2005/1017/194201.html. To find out more about Microprocessor Report, please visit: www.mdronline.com.

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