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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

It's Moore's Law, but Another Had the Idea First

The New York Times > Technology > It's Moore's Law, but Another Had the Idea First

Well, Moore's law seems to roll off the toung a bit easier than Engelbart's Law.

Both are major thinkers in the development of micro-circuitry
Significantly, the two pioneers represent twin Silicon Valley cultures that have combined to create the digital economy.

Mr. Moore, who co-founded Intel, is an icon of the precise and perhaps narrower chip engineering discipline that today continues to progress by layering sheets of individual molecules, one on top of the other, and by making wires that are finer in diameter than a wavelength of light.

"Gordon was the classic engineer," said Craig Barrett, Intel's chief executive, who had just begun to teach engineering at Stanford University when Mr. Moore made his famous prediction. The chart that accompanied his article was a plot that showed just five data points over seven years and extrapolated out into the future as far as 1975, when a single chip would be able to hold as many as 65,000 transistors. Forty years later, memory chip capacity has gone far beyond one billion of the tiny switches.

Mr. Engelbart, in contrast, was the architect of a passionately held view that computing could extend or "augment" the power of the human mind. His ideas were set out most clearly in 1968, in a famous demonstration in San Francisco of his Pentagon-financed Augment computing system. Many things were shown to the world for the first time, including the mouse, videoconferencing, interactive text editing, hypertext and networking - basically the outlines of modern Internet-style computing.

Mr. Engelbart had an epiphany in 1950, in which he imagined what would decades later become today's Internet-connected PC. He set about building it. At the time he had no idea of how he would build such a machine, but it soon became clear that it would require a computer that did not yet exist.

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