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MOORE'S LAW by Arnold Thackray


The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley's Quiet Revolutionary

by Arnold Thackray & David Brock & Rachel Jones

Pub Date: May 5th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-465-05564-7
Publisher: Basic Books

An authorized biography of the little-known chemist who helped create Silicon Valley.

Now a billionaire in his mid-80s, Gordon Moore earned his doctorate at Caltech, and in the 1950s and ’60s, he created and led two of the nation’s most influential technology firms, Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel. He pioneered the chemical process for making transistors—the building bricks in microchips—which power everything in modern society from missiles and satellites to smartphones and other consumer technologies. In this admiring, richly detailed book, Chemical Heritage Foundation founding CEO Thackray (Atoms and Powers, 2013, etc.), electronics journalist Brock, and technology journalist Jones recount Moore’s life as “the master of transistor technology and the prophet of the microchip’s promise.” His “Moore’s Law,” posited 50 years ago, predicted accurately that computing power will double every two years. In contrast to many Silicon Valley moguls, Moore has long been a quiet, unpretentious figure who has eschewed wealth and fame and lived a practical life guided by facts, not feelings. Based largely on oral history transcripts, the authors tell Moore’s story from his childhood as a California sheriff’s son to his early work with physicist William Shockley to his tremendous success at Intel, where Andy Grove, his “interpreter, enforcer, and hatchet man,” helped him achieve his agenda. They portray a driven, intensely focused scientist and businessman who took comfort in his love of the outdoors and his conventional family life. The silicon transistor is “the object most crafted by humans.” By 1995, the 30th anniversary of Moore’s declaration of Moore’s Law, more than 70 million billion had been produced.

This overlong book cries out for further pruning of both text and photos (including 32 featuring Moore, many of them head shots), but techies will be delighted with its full treatment of an important figure often overshadowed by such luminaries as Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison.