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Gordon Moore captivated a generation with his prophetic foreshadowing that the density of semiconductor devices would double every year or two -- a prediction that has been so dependable that commentators have enshrined it as: Moore's Law.
And even as we approach the end of the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS), when bottom-up molecular self-assembly is predicted to take over from today's top-down subtractive lithography -- the density of new devices is still expected to double every few years, extending Moore's legacy indefinitely even in new fields such as biotechnology.
After graduating from CalTech in 1954, Moore joined fellow alumni William Shockley at Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory, but defected with Robert Noyce and six other former Shockley Semiconductor employees to found Fairchild in 1957. While at Fairchild, Moore predicted the future of semiconductor progress in a 1965 article in McGraw-Hill's Electronics
magazine that was later dubbed `Moore's Law'. In 1968, he co-founded Intel with Robert Noyce and Andrew Grove, where he was chief-executive officer and later chairman of the board until named chairman emeritus in 1997.
He continued as chairman of CalTech's board of trustees, during which Caltech dedicated a building to him -- Moore Laboratories -- until 2000 when he endowed the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. In 2001, he gave Caltech $600 million -- the largest gift ever to an institution of higher education. And in 2003, he was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Since then his Foundation has been doing pioneering work in environmental conservation, especially in oceanography, although many other good causes are also served. For instance, in 2012 the Foundation funded WikiData (along with the Paul Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence) with the ambitious agenda of creating a Wikipedia-like crowd-sourced repository of all known facts. And starting next year, the Foundation will break ground on the world's largest telescope -- along with many other donors including Japan, India and China -- in a five year program to build a 30-meter (98 foot) wide celestial mirror in Hawaii by 2018.