Intel pioneer Gordon Moore, who helped lead growth of personal computing, dies at 94

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Gordon Moore, right, Intel Corporation co-founder, receives a Marconi Society Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Galvin, chairman of Motorola in 2005 - AFP/Getty Images
Gordon Moore, right, Intel Corporation co-founder, receives a Marconi Society Lifetime Achievement Award from Robert Galvin, chairman of Motorola in 2005 - AFP/Getty Images

Intel Corp co-founder Gordon Moore, a pioneering IT specialist in the semiconductor industry whose "Moore's Law" predicted a steady rise in computing power for decades, died on Friday at the age of 94, the company announced.

Intel and Mr Moore's family philanthropic foundation said he died surrounded by family at his home in Hawaii.

Co-launching Intel in 1968, Mr Moore was part of a triumvirate of technology luminaries that eventually put "Intel Inside" processors in more than 80pc of the world's personal computers.

In an article he wrote in 1965, Mr Moore observed that, thanks to improvements in technology, the number of transistors on microchips had roughly doubled every year since integrated circuits were invented a few years before.

His prediction that the trend would continue became known as "Moore's Law" and, later amended to every two years, it helped push Intel and rival chipmakers to aggressively target their research and development resources to make sure that rule of thumb came true.

"Integrated circuits will lead to such wonders as home computers - or at least terminals connected to a central computer - automatic controls for automobiles, and personal portable communications equipment," Mr Moore wrote in his paper, two decades before the PC revolution and more than 40 years before Apple launched the iPhone.

After Mr Moore's article, chips became more efficient and less expensive at an exponential rate, helping drive much of the world's technological progress for half a century and allowing the advent of not just personal computers, but the internet and Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Facebook and Google, Reuters reported today.

"It sure is nice to be at the right place at the right time," Mr Moore said in an interview around 2005. "I was very fortunate to get into the semiconductor industry in its infancy. And I had an opportunity to grow from the time where we couldn't make a single silicon transistor to the time where we put 1.7 billion of them on one chip! It's been a phenomenal ride."

In recent years, Intel rivals such as Nvidia Corp have contended that Moore's Law no longer holds as improvements in chip manufacturing have slowed down.

But despite manufacturing stumbles that have caused Intel to lose market share in recent years, current chief executive Pat Gelsinger has said he believes Moore's Law still holds as the company invests billions of dollars in a turnaround effort.

Morris Chang, the founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, said Mr Moore was a great and respected friend for more than six decades.

"With Gordon gone, almost all of my first-generation semiconductor colleagues are gone," Mr Chang said in a statement released via TSMC.

Even though he predicted the PC movement, Mr Moore told Forbes magazine that he did not buy a home computer himself until the late 1980s.

Mr Moore earned a PhD in chemistry and physics in 1954 at the California Institute of Technology. He went to work at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory where he met future Intel co-founder Robert Noyce. They departed in 1957 to launch Fairchild Semiconductor. In 1968, Mr Moore and Mr Noyce left Fairchild to start the memory chip company soon to be named Intel, an abbreviation of Integrated Electronics.

Their first hire was another Fairchild colleague, Andy Grove, who would lead Intel through much of its explosive growth in the 1980s and 1990s.