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Economic impact
The Showman
Physical intuition

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Economic implications
The Showman
Physical intuition

"Working at Shockley in the early days had some of the excitement of a start-up . . . But it also had some of Shockley's other sides associated with it, that while he was phenomenal in his understanding of the physics of the devices, he had some rather peculiar ideas about how to motivate people and that caused developing dissension in the organization. –Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore


When Gordon Moore began working at Shockley Semiconductor in 1956, he barely knew what a semiconductor was. Within ten years he was well on his way to being one of the greatest visionaries of the semiconductor world. Not only was he a co-founder of Intel, the largest silicon chip manufacturing company around, but he also has a computer rule of thumb named after him.

Moore was born on January 3, 1929, and grew up in California, near Palo Alto. With a Ph.D. in chemistry and physics from Caltech, he was just the kind of researcher Shockley wanted when he started up his new California company. Shockley had some bizarre ideas about hiring people, though during his interview, Moore had to sit through a battery of psychological tests, while Shockley timed each answer with a stopwatch. Shockley must have decided he could work with Moore, because he was hired. Unfortunately, the feeling did not turn out to be mutual. Moore was one of eight employees who soon realized Shockley wasn't a good manager. In 1957, the eight men left to form another silicon company: Fairchild Semiconductor.

Gordon Moore worked at Fairchild for 11 years, during which time he wrote an article for Electronics magazine on the future of the semiconductor industry. By tracking the history of the growing integrated chip, Moore made a prediction about its future. He said that the number of components on a single silicon chip would continue to double every year. This prediction became known as Moore's Law.

In 1968, Moore left Fairchild with his colleague Robert Noyce to found Intel. Originally focusing on memory chips, Moore helped Intel grow into one of the hottest companies around. He is currently in semi-retirement, but says he doesn't plan to completely give up working at Intel any time soon.


Gordon Moore talks about the economic impact of the transistor:
"The real implication of this was the decrease in cost of electronics. Where single transistors had sold for a few dollars after I got into the business, now for a few dollars you can buy sixteen million bits of D-RAM, which has over sixteen million transistors on it. So here's a sixteen million-to-one decrease in the cost of the transistor, with all the interconnections and things thrown in free. No other technology I can identify has had an equivalent decrease in the cost of its product."

Gordon Moore talks about Shockley the showman:
"Bill was a very complex person. Certainly competition was important. He, frankly, had a lot of showman in him. Given a stage, he would certainly occupy it at any time. He thrived on controversy—if there were two ways of stating anything, he'd always pick the more controversial. And I think those related to some of the kinds of problems that developed in the organization."

Gordon Moore on Shockley's physical intuition:
"Shockley had phenomenal physical intuition. He really had just a feeling for the way the physics worked in these devices. I had a colleague that said he thought Shockley could see electrons."


-- American Men and Women of Science 
-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson 
-- Gordon Moore, interview for "Transistorized!"
-- Fifteen Years of PC Magazine: Looking Beyond
-- Gordon Moore Interview 

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