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Robert Noyce, Silicon Valley, and Moore's Law
Young, ambitious, brilliant Robert Noyce
When I watched "Silicon Valley, American Experience" for the first time, I was instantly hooked. I'm obviously a huge proponent and student of the eponymous Moore's Law. Well, this is the story a certain Mr. Moore, along with seven others who boldly set out to do something no one had previously imagined they could do: start their own computer-based company.
Half a century ago, a man named Shockley came up with an amazing concept: the transistor. This nifty device replaced the clunky vacuum tube and allowed computers far more powerful than ENIAC, which took up the size of an entire house, and had men running around inside of it to repair any tubes that blew out (and blow out they did, many times a day, to be built in literally one hundredth as much space in just the span of 15 years.
Amazing documentary on the Silicon Valley founding and early years
The Traitorous Eight leave
The so-called "Traitorous Eight" left the egotistical Shockley to create what became Fairchild Semiconductor, which eventually spawned Intel. All of these companies may eventually give rise to a technological singularity, perhaps within our lifetime. Silicon Valley itself didn't exist in its present form until these guys did what they did; instead, it was a fertile valley where fruit trees grew as far as the eye could see in any direction.
This breathtaking story tells of how these men faced seemingly insurmountable odds, overcame them to rise to the top, and then helped to take things to the next level with the integrated circuit. Their ups and downs are well worth learning, and this documentary does it right.
Traitorous 8: who is your favorite member?
A bit more about Moore's Law
Moore's Law (the eponymous "law" first described by Gordon Moore of the Traitorous Eight) suggests, in a nutshell, that computer speed and power roughly doubles every year. This is a bit of an oversimplification, as the "law" actually states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 2 years (originally it was every year). Here's a bit more information about not only what this means for historical reasons, but also what it might mean for both the near and far future.
I often get excited thinking about how rapidly progress is occurring in this area, and how very important it is for what lies ahead for all of us. Silicon Valley is, in a very real sense, where it all began.
Going forward, we're going to see some absurdly wild changes. Well, they would seem absurd without the proper context of studying the past to see exactly how far along we've come with technological innovations, and how the pace at which new innovations spread across the globe is quickening at a maniacal pace. I, for one, am going to enjoy this wild ride, and try to tell everyone I possibly can about this crazy, awesome roller coaster we're on!