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05/03/2001 07:00:00

Technology Pioneer Gordon Moore is Caltech Commencement Speaker

PASADENA, Calif. — Computer technology pioneer Gordon Moore has been named the featured speaker of the California Institute of Technology's 107th annual commencement ceremony which will begin at 10 a.m. June 15, on Beckman Mall on the Caltech campus.

An estimated 489 students will be receiving degrees: 208 bachelor's, 120 master's, one engineer and 160 doctoral.

Prior to the conferring of degrees, the commencement address will be given by Moore, who went through the same ceremony himself 47 years ago when he received a PhD in chemistry from Caltech.

A few years after graduating from Caltech, Moore cofounded Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation in Mountain View in the late 1950s. He managed the corporation's engineering department and later directed Fairchild's research and development when the company produced the first commercial integrated circuit.

In 1968, he and a few of his colleagues at Fairchild decided to create a start-up to focus on large-scale integrated products. They typed a one-page business plan, received $2.5 million in venture capital in two days, and named the company Intel, short for "integrated electronics."

Their first commercial product, the 3101 Schottky bipolar 64-bit static random access memory chip, was moderately successful, but they hit their stride when they designed a general-purpose logic chip that could be programmed to take instructions. This meant that intelligence could be programmed by means of software; it didn't have to be burned into hardware, saving both time and money.

This chip changed history by making programmable intelligence so cheap it could be embedded into household appliances and so powerful that people could have computers of their own. Within a decade, the microprocessor was hailed as one of the top inventions in American technology history, ranking with the invention of the light bulb, the telephone, and the airplane.

In 1974, Moore remarked of the chip's impact, "I'd like to think that we're the real revolutionaries in the world. Things are being revolutionized a lot more by electronics technology than by some political things going on."

Moore was chief executive officer at Intel from 1975 to 1987, and is now chairman emeritus. He is widely known for "Moore's law" which he formulated in 1965. The law states that the number of transistors the industry would be able to place on a computer chip would double every year. In 1995 he updated his prediction to once every two years. While originally intended as a rule of thumb, it has become the guiding principle for the industry, which endeavors to deliver ever more powerful semiconductor chips at proportionate decreases in cost.

Moore, 72, has been a Caltech trustee for 18 years, and served as chairman of the board from 1993 to 2000. Moore's generosity to the Institute has included the establishment of a program for visiting scholars, for fellowships, and for undergraduate scholarships; the funding of a professorship in engineering; and funding for The Gordon and Betty Moore Laboratory of Engineering, completed in 1996.

Moore is a director of Gilead Sciences Inc., a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He received the National Medal of Technology in 1990 from then-president George Bush.

Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and a faculty of about 275 professorial members and 130 research members. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 2,100 on campus and 4,800 at JPL.

Over the years, 28 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni. Forty-seven Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees, including Moore), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 78 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 71 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 47 members of the National Academy of Engineering.

CONTACT: Jill Perry, Media Relations Director (626) 395-3226

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Written by Jill Perry