Moore’s law – now and then

Moore’s law is sort of a natural law for us working with electronic circuits. At some point I did a survey of my own designs from > 1-um channel length down to 28 nm. That development also “followed” Moore’s “law”.

I am putting quotations around the “followed” and “law”, since it tends to be misused (strong word – it is not misused nor misinterpreted, there tends however to be an amount of artistic freedom involved). In essence – Moore said that complexity increases and within a certain period of time that complexity will double. Sort of. I think we all agree on that. Often the plots are shown in a logarithmic scale and then – to present your data – it is also quite easy to tilt that line just slightly to adjust that time scale such that you still can argue that you follow Moore’s law. But just say two, three times slower…

Anyway, what I find interesting from Gordon Moore’s paper in Electronics, Vol. 38, #8, April 19, 1965, is a picture – drawn by Grant Compton – which I reproduce below. I have not found any information on if this picture still has a copyright or not. So I take the risk.


Here we find a bunch of people at a market or market place and one guy obviously gets all the attraction (bar one lady on the right – or possibly she is using the mirror to sneak view…) To the right and left of him, there are empty stands selling potion and lotion.

So, what’s remarkable? The guy sells computers – so does Walmart: “Handy Home Computers”. Well, this is back in 1965 and then a home computer was far from handy and far from being so cheap that you could sell it en masse at a market and definitely not small enough to hold in your hand. 1955 there were 255 home computers [history learning] and a 1970 computer could cost you something above $100.000. Obviously nothing that the average middle class home would buy. And also, what would you do with it back in 1970?

The prediction from the paper is in that perspective remarkable. Not only to convince that the computer will be cheap (that cheap) but also used by more or less anyone for any purpose. Same daily use as potion and lotion, attracting both the children and old people.

Now, without any further comments, let us look at the people queuing for a new iPhone, i.e., a powerful home computer, in London a couple of years ago, approximately 50 years since Moore’s paper and Compton’s picture [itv]

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