Take a deep dive into a crucial moment in technological history with Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. In this first of a series of videos being produced by the Caltech Archives, titled 'My First Chip’, Professor Mead tells the story of meeting Gordon Moore, who would soon predict that every year the semiconductor industry would double the number of transistors that could be fabricated on a commercial integrated circuit. Carver Mead and his students worked on the physics of ultra-small transistors, and showed that, in addition to allowing greater density, they ran faster and used less power. This work proved that Moore’s prediction did not violate any laws of physics, and it became known as 'Moore's Law'–the term coined and made famous by Professor Mead.
Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has been named fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). He has significantly advanced the technology of integrated circuits by developing a method called very-large-scale integration (VSLI) that allows engineers to combine thousands of transistors onto a single microchip, thus exponentially expanding computer processing power. Election as an NAI fellow is an honor bestowed upon academic innovators and inventors who have "demonstrated a prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions and innovations that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society." [Caltech story]
Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, celebrated his 80th birthday on May 1, 2014. Professor Mead is best known for his pioneering work on VLSI (very-large-scale integration) circuit technology in the 1970s and 1980s, which made it possible to greatly increase the number of transistors placed on a single semiconductor chip. It is no exaggeration to say that the computer era we live in would not have been possible without VLSI technology. He remains as passionate today about science and engineering as he ever was. "There isn't really a time when you're too old to have new ideas," Mead says. [Caltech interview] [Share Your Memories] [ENGenious article]
A recent New York Times' Science article about a new computing approach based on the nervous system mentions Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. The new processors used in this approach consist of electronic components that can be connected by wires that mimic biological synapses. Because they are based on large groups of neuron-like elements, they are known as neuromorphic processors, a term credited to Carver Mead, who pioneered the concept in the late 1980s. [New York Times Article] [ENGenious Article about Carver Mead]
Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus, has been awarded the Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the category of Information and Communication Technologies. He was recognized for being "the most influential thinker and pioneer" of the silicon age and for enabling "the development of the billion-transistor processors that drive the electronic devices—for example, in laptops, tablets, smartphones, DVD players—ubiquitous in our daily lives." [BBVA Release]