Co-founder steps down from Intel board

The Associated Press
Friday May 25, 2001

SANTA CLARA — Three years before co-founding Intel Corp. in 1968, Gordon Moore predicted the number of transistors on a silicon chip would double every 18 months. 

More than 35 years later, “Moore’s Law” still describes growth in the high-tech industry, as more transistors lead to more processing punch, new products and greater demand for computer power. 

On Thursday, the Silicon Valley legend retired from the board of directors of Intel. He will continue serving as chairman emeritus and director emeritus but will no longer hold any voting power. 

After the company’s annual meeting – during which former Federal Communications Commission Reed Hundt was elected to the company’s board – Moore said he has no regrets about instituting a mandatory retirement age for directors. 

And Moore said he intends to remain at least as active in the company as he has been since giving up the chairmanship title in 1997. 

“I would miss it if I really backed away. This business is really exciting. It changes so fast,” he said. “If the alternative is staying home and taking out the garbage, I want to stay close to the industry.” 

Asked about his thoughts on the future, Moore pointed to the demands for greater processing power by scientists developing new drugs and consumers looking for better voice recognition software. 

Truth be told, he added, his opinions aren’t so important now. 

“I don’t have to worry so much about what’s going to happen anymore,” he said, seated next to Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett and Chairman Andy Grove. “The 85,000 people at Intel can worry about that.” 

Moore said the current economic downturn that has hammered Intel and other high-tech companies won’t last forever. But, he added, no two downturns are alike. 

“You’ve got to be careful that you’re not like the generals who plan to fight the last war,” he said. “You’ve got to look at what the characteristics are. I don’t know how this one will play out.” 

Moore and Robert Noyce founded Intel on July 18, 1968, shortly after leaving Fairchild Semiconductor. Noyce died of a heart attack in 1990. 

Experts expect Moore’s Law to hold true at least through the next decade. Moore himself said Thursday that it will ultimately be limited by engineers’ ability to make things smaller. 

“No exponential every goes on forever without some kind of disaster happening at the end. Sure it has a limit,” he said. “Materials are made of atoms, and we’re not too far from where that starts to bite us.” 

Moore originally published his prediction as a way to show that integrated circuits would become less costly and more powerful over time. 

That original idea has taken on a life of its own, he said. 

“Since then, sort of anything that changes exponentially in relation to the industry is called ’Moore’s Law,”’ he said. “And I’m perfectly happy to take credit for all of it.” 


On the Net: 

Intel Corp.: http://www.intel.com