An Interview with Gordon
Moore

Wolfson: You are looked to as a role model for a lot of young people. Did you have a role model growing up, someone in your family perhaps?
Moore: Actually, no one in particular. In my family, my father had to quit school in the 7th grade to support his family; his father died early. My mother, I guess, graduated from high school.

My math teacher in high school was important in keeping my general interest in math and science.

I was the first one of the family to go to college. I had some teachers that along the way were important for a period of time, but not for any protracted period. My math teacher in high school was important in keeping my general interest in math and science.

I was very fortunate in that I was just too young for the Second World War... My brother, who was probably a better student than I was, got drafted into the Army. He came back, never went back to college and he is now raising cattle at a farm.

I snuck through as being too young for WW II, and I was in graduate school by the time the Korean War came along, so I didn't have my education interrupted by military service. I think if I had ever dropped out, the likelihood of my ever getting back in would have been pretty small.

Cervantes: What motivated you to start Intel?
Moore: You have to put that in the context of where I was. I had been one of the founders of Fairchild Semiconductor, after a group of us had left Shockley. And Fairchild was quite successful.

Fairchild was involved in completely different types of businesses. Aerial photography was their principal one. They were the ones that made the cameras that took the pictures of Cuba during the (Cuban missile) crisis.

The operation was quite successful, but it was a long ways away from the parent company. For some reason or another they had some severe management problems at the parent company. At the time, the job I had was running the laboratory as director of research at Fairchild. I was getting somewhat frustrated because it was increasingly difficult to get our new ideas into the company's products. As the company grew, it became more and more difficult to transfer the ideas and the new technology.


We saw a new way of storing information for computers

Bob Noyce
Bob Noyce decided that he was going to leave the company, since he obviously was not going to be a candidate to be made the company's Chief Executive Officer. I decided that it was time that I did something new also, so we left and took a completely new start in semiconductors. That was the beginning of Intel. We saw a new way of storing information for computers, a product area where we could get started where the existing semiconductor companies were not active. That really worked out better than we could ever have imagined.

We had an arrangement with a Japanese company that wanted to make electronic calculators which were new at the time and that's actually what led to the first microprocessor.


That really worked out better than we could ever have imagined.

In order to make the family of calculators they were interested in, we convinced them to abandon all the design work they had done, and adopt this method of using a central computer chip, with programs and memory to do all of the calculations.

That's what we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of this year, that microprocessor that we completed and then delivered in 1971.

Wolfson: Did you have any idea what the impact of that product was going to be?
Moore: Well, I had no idea of how important it was going to end up being. On the other hand, I think we recognized that it was a significant new direction. In fact, the ad we ran announcing the microprocessor announced it as a new era of electronics. Pretty aggressive for us in those days.

Well, I had no idea of how important it was going to end up being. On the other hand, I think we recognized that it was a significant new direction.

That has generally been the case since I have been in this business. We've never been able to really appreciate the impact of the technology we were working with. I got into this business in 1956, 41 years ago, and the idea that it could be a $150 billion business was something we never could have imagined.

Wolfson: Do you ever worry that the technology that you have spawned might lead in directions that you might not like to see it go?
Moore: To some extent, I guess. You fairly soon adopt the feeling that you really have no control over what the technology is used for. Driving it and looking at the market you are handling, you cannot worry about all of that.

Electronic technology is not intuitive; mechanical technology was intuitive. You could take a car apart and see how it worked, you could see the pieces, see how they interacted. Electronics are not like that.

But one thing that has concerned me is that we seem to be becoming a two-class society: those who are wired and those who are not; those that have the education and those that don't. It's really based on education... Electronic technology is not intuitive; mechanical technology was intuitive.

You could take a car apart and see how it worked, you could see the pieces, see how they interacted. Electronics are not like that. You take a computer apart, you don't see anything in there that helps you to know how it works. You have to have some knowledge of it.

I can see the changes here at Intel. In the early days, we hired a lot of people for our manufacturing lines only based on their manual dexterity. We would test them to see if they could handle these little things well enough.

They didn't have to be able to speak English, or do anything else as long as we could teach them to manipulate the things we needed.


I see this acceleration of the need for education at a time when our schools are not doing as good a job as I would like to see them do. This, to me, is of considerable concern.

Today all those operations are done automatically. Now, our operators have to learn to operate the computers that control the machines.

They have to have a reasonably good command of the English language. They have to be able to be taught to use the computer. It requires a significantly more basic education to participate in our manufacturing operations than it did before.

I see this acceleration of the need for education at a time when our schools are not doing as good a job as I would like to see them do. This, to me, is of considerable concern. We have a lot of high paying jobs that are going begging today because the trained people are not available. On the other hand, you have people who would like to work, but just do not have the skills at all.