Cashing In on Chips: Gordon Moore, U.S. Inventor

He was a self-confessed "indifferent student" who grew up to be "the father of Silicon Valley."

Moore was born in 1929, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. After earning a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology (Cal Tech) in 1954, Moore went to work for Nobel Prize winner William Shockley. But Moore soon found himself on the losing end of a rebellion against the autocratic Shockley. In 1957, Moore and a colleague, Robert Noyce, founded a company called Fairchild Semiconductor. They developed an integrated circuit, which put key components onto a single silicon chip.

In 1968, Moore and Noyce formed a new company. It was called Intel, and it made microprocessor chips. Intel chips became the hearts of a whole range of computers, and Moore became one of the richest men in America. He once joked that Intel actually sold the surface of its chips "for about a billion dollars an acre."

Moore "semi-retired" in the late 1990s. With his wife Betty, Moore donated $600 million to his alma mater in 2001, and another $200 million in 2007.

He also devoted a fair chunk of time to fishing. "I could spend half my time trying to outwit a dumb fish," he once said. And the other half, no doubt, teaching it to do more in a smaller and smaller space.

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