Did Moore’s Law Really Inspire the Computer Age?

A Half Century Ago, Chemist Gordon Moore Made a Prediction—Or Was It a Challenge?—That Became a Narrative for Our Time

In the last half-century, and especially in the last decade, computers have given us the ability to act and interact in progressively faster and more frictionless ways. Consider the now-ubiquitous smartphone, whose internal processor takes just a millisecond to convert a movement of your finger or thumb to a visual change on your screen. This speed has benefits (in 2020, there’s a virtual library of information online) as well as disadvantages (your gaffe can go viral in seconds).

What made the smartphone—and the rest of our unfolding digital transformation—possible? Many …