“What computing rule of thumb,” reads a trivia question on How-To Geek, “predicts the doubling of computing power every two years?”
It’s a tougher question than you may think.
Fifty years ago this weekend, an electronics engineer named Gordon E. Moore who had co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor, and who had moved on to lead a kind of startup firm with the strange sounding name Intel, published an article in Electronics magazine (PDF). In it, Moore shared an observation that the costs of producing more highly integrated electronics were declining at a predictable rate.
The article, with the beautiful title, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits” (perhaps Moore was also an SEO visionary back then) suggested that integrated circuit manufacturers may actually be compelled to find new and innovative ways to combine the various parts of an integrated circuit into ever smaller spaces over time, in order to take full advantage of those declining costs.