Moore’s Law turns 50

Posted: 04.01.15

Where were you when it was postulated? 

Moore’s Law has been a fantastic observation, and a self-fulfilling prophecy that has spurred us on to do more, do it faster, make it smaller, and cheaper. We do it because we think we can.

THE SKETCH that rocked the world— Moore’s cost vs. time sketch from his 1964 notebook done while he was at Fairchild.Moore’s Law has been great for information systems and all the happy recipients of the technology developments as a result of it. However, as great as our 4K TVs, super small computers, IoT, and devices are, the effect of Moore’s Law has not lifted all boats. As William Gibson said, the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed. That’s because there’s no Moore’s Law for energy systems (batteries aren’t shrinking every two years), there’s no Moore’s Law for economics, and there sure as hell isn’t any Moore’s Law for politics. Those areas defy improvement and benefit to humankind.

But what about alternative universes? What if Moore’s Law was twice as fast—could we cope with it? It’s doubtful we could, given the stress society is feeling dealing with the accelerating


changes of technology that we’re currently experiencing. How about if it were twice as slow—what would that be like? Well, if we didn’t know the difference, it would be fine, and even then people would complain about the rush of technology.THE TRANSLATION of Moore’s observation in his famous Electronics Magazine article in 1965.

And how about productivity? Has Moore’s Law helped improve productivity? I think yes, again, maybe not evenly, but overall we can do better things faster and cheaper. It’s just that some people are enjoying the benefits of that more than others are.

How about you? When did you discover Moore’s Law? Do you use it in your thinking, your planning? Do you look forward to the developments you know (or should know) it will bring? How do you explain it to your children, who are going to see more changes than you, and maybe more than you can imagine?

Do you think it will lead to the infamous Singularity and killer AI? Will we fall in love with our operating systems, or upload our consciousness to silicon storage that will live forever, or as long as there’s power supplied to it? What are the limitations to Moore’s observation—are there any?

MOORE’S LAW over time has played out pretty well.


You can download Gordon Moore’s 1965 article here