Moore’s Law at 40

Forty years ago yesterday, Electronics magazine published Gordon Moore’s celebrated article predicting that the number of transistors that could be placed on a silicon chip would continue to double at regular intervals for the foreseeable future. Several years later, the physicist Carver Mead christened it “Moore’s Law”. I met Moore some years ago in Cambridge (where he has endowed a nice library for science and technology), and he was wearing the crappy digital watch which, he proudly declares, cost $15 million. (that’s what it cost Intel to get in and out of the digital watch business).

We met in the University Library and when we’d finished talking discovered that the limo the university had ordered to take him to his next appointment (lunch with the Duke of Edinburgh) had failed to arrive. So I offered him a lift in my chronically untidy car. He climbed in over the crisp packets and tennis rackets and all the other detritus deposited by the kids and nattered cheerfully all the way to Clarkson Road.

When I got home, I told Sue (who was temperamentally an extremely tidy and organised person, and regarded my car as an environmental hazard) about what had happened. She looked at me incredulously. “You did what? You took Gordon Moore in that vehicle!” “Yep”. She went off muttering in disapproval, looked up Moore’s Intel shareholding and calculated that, on that day, he was worth just over $7 billion!