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Moore’s Law

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

By Arnold Thackray, David Brock and Rachel Jones
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Moore’s Law: The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary by Arnold Thackray, David Brock and Rachel Jones

Moore's Law (2015) tells the story of Gordon Moore, a chemist from San Francisco who helped revolutionize the technology industry. Over the years, Moore’s innovations have fundamentally changed all kinds of electronic technology, from digital watches and personal computers to the internet and Facebook.

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Gordon Moore was passionate about science from an early age.

You've probably heard of Moore's Law, but what do you know about Gordon Moore – the man who came up with it?

Gordon Moore was born in San Francisco, in 1929, to Mira and Walter Moore. He was a very reserved child, but also an exceptionally concentrated one. His precocity and extraordinary intelligence led him early on to what would become his lifelong vocation.

In 1940, when he was eleven years old, Moore’s life changed forever. After his best friend was given a chemistry set, the pair began using it to make explosives and blow things up. Science suited Moore’s analytical mind, preferring it to math because he could see its visible effect on the tangible world. Moore had found his calling.

As he got older, Moore remained passionate about chemistry and experimentation. He took his first chemistry lessons at Sequoia High School, where he was far ahead of the rest of his class, and by the age of 16, he already had a sophisticated understanding of the subject and was very confident in his ideas.

Moore also retained his love of blowing things up. He experimented with nitroglycerine at home and eventually began making firecrackers for his friends, who used them to blow up mailboxes.

Nor was the chemistry in Moore's life just happening in the lab. In September 1947, Moore met Betty Irene Whitaker, a journalism major at San Jose State. Whitaker was outgoing, lively and headstrong – the very opposite of Moore. Naturally, that drew him to her. She, in turn, was intrigued by his quiet confidence and composure.

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