A few years before co-founding Intel, one of the largest and most revered semiconductor chip makers in the world, Moore wrote that the amount of transistors on integrated circuits — essentially, the complexity of computers — doubles every two years. Now called “Moore’s Law,” that estimate is gospel in the computer industry, and Moore a prophet of Silicon Valley. In the early years, as electronics were being installed into almost every consumer item, “we had the feeling that this was the basic technology of some kind of a revolution,” he said in a 2012 NPR interview with himself and fellow Intel icon Andy Grove Ph.D. ’63. Still wanting to do more, Moore and his wife began the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in 2000 to support their combined passions: environmental conservation, patient care, science, and Bay Area-focused projects. The foundation emphasizes planning, partnership, and — when necessary — learning from mistakes. “Failures are not something to be avoided. You want to have them happen as quickly as you can so you can make progress rapidly,” Moore once said. He received the Berkeley Medal in 1996, the university’s highest honor.
In 1972, as a newbie at the young game-maker Atari, Alcorn was asked by company cofounder Nolan Bushnell to make a simple ping pong game under a contract with General Electric. Although the contract didn’t really exist, Alcorn worked hard nonetheless to make something good. Three months later, the first coin-operated Pong machine was installed at Andy Capp’s Tavern in Sunnyvale, CA — and became an instant hit. As Bushnell would later say, it was “so simple that any drunk in any bar could play.” Alcorn designed both the arcade and home versions, and Pong’s popularity sparked the globally ubiquitous, multi-billion-dollar game industry we know today. “It wasn’t my intention. I’m just as surprised as the next guy,” he told the Computer History Museum in 2011. After Atari, his crucial involvement with many Silicon Valley startups earned him an Apple Fellowship; his own company, Zowie Intertainment, was acquired by LEGO in 2000. Alcorn continues to remain involved in tech’s fun side through Hack the Future, which offers daylong “hackfests” to school-age kids that teach them programming and connect them to mentors. Follow Alcorn on Twitter at @alalcorn.
In 2002, as a young analyst at J.P. Morgan in New York, the arts-loving Ringelmann excitedly attended an event expecting to rub elbows with movie stars. Instead, she found herself surrounded by starving artists, “all hoping they’d meet their angel that night, someone who’d give them the money to finally go make their big project,” she explained in a 2011 Tedx Talk in Dubai. Fueled by the desire to democratize finance, she entered Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, where she met her future partners. “I wanted to be in an environment that would allow me to really think big,” she said in a video. In 2008, they launched Indiegogo, an online platform that makes it easy for ideas to go viral and gain multiple donors, who receive fun perks over profit shares. The first and now largest crowdfunding site, Indiegogo distributes millions of dollars every week to people worldwide for everything from solar roadways to graphic novels, high-fashion wetsuits to the world’s first crowdfunded baby. “Friends, family and even complete strangers wanted to help make our dream come true,” said Jessica Haley in a Sydney, Australia, newspaper on her successfully funded infertility treatments. Follow Ringelmann on Twitter @gogoDanae.
In 1956, as Grove fled Communist-occupied Hungary and a Holocaust-haunted past, little did he foresee becoming a legend of the high-tech industry. A few years after finishing his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Berkeley, he was the first hire at Intel — co-founded by Gordon Moore ’50 to push the edges of the fledgling microchip — and later led Intel to great acclaim. “Every pestilence that could kill a microchip hit it,” Grove said in an NPR interview, recalling its bumpy start. But they finally struck gold — and continued uncovering gems over the decades with the microprocessor and personal computer. In 1997, Time magazine named Grove its Man of the Year. Driven by personal frustrations with treating his own illnesses, Grove has recently turned his attention toward speeding up the delivery of new medical therapies. In 2010, he made a gift to UCSF and Berkeley’s bioengineering department to jointly launch the first-ever master’s degree in translational medicine, which graduated its first class in 2014. “What we have learned from decades of rapid development of information technology is that the key is relentless focus on ‘better, faster, cheaper’ – in everything,” Grove said, including curing life-threatening diseases.
Awuah left his home in Ghana in 1985 with $50 in his pocket and a full scholarship to Swarthmore College. Today he is one of Africa’s most respected leaders. After rising through the ranks at Microsoft, the birth of his first child inspired him to shift his focus toward home — and the belief that higher education could revitalize a nation beset by poverty and corruption. He enrolled at Berkeley-Haas and turned an audacious idea to establish Africa’s first private liberal arts college into a student project. Founded in 2002, Ashesi University (which means “beginning”) has graduated more than 500 students and is setting its sights on expanding the academic program and recruiting more African students beyond Ghana. “There have been times when it has seemed like Mission Impossible, but magic is happening,” he said in the Berkeley-Haas magazine. Although Awuah told CNN that only 5 percent of Ghana’s children go to college, he is courageously developing a generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders who will one day run the country. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickAwuahJr.
Case’s “aha” moment occurred as an undergraduate. When an architecture professor said her design of student housing looked like a layer cake, she baked her next model. “I’m sure (my peers) were thinking, ‘Do we get to eat the damn thing when she’s done talking?'” Taking it further in 2008, Case began making ice cream sandwiches with a friend and naming them after architectural legends — such as Frank Berry and Mies Vanilla Rohe. They revamped a dumpy postal truck and parked it at a music festival, generating a hungry following within hours. Coolhaus — a play on Bauhaus, the modernist movement of the 1920s and ’30s, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, and “cool house” (the “sammies” look like tiny houses) — now has trucks in four cities, a store, and a sweet deal with Whole Foods, among other retailers. But the obsessed need not feel guilty. Committed to sustainability, Case uses local, organic ingredients whenever possible and wraps each delight in edible paper. Follow Coolhaus on Facebook or Twitter @Coolhaus. (photo courtesy of New York Street Food)
In almost every city in South Asia, knowing when or whether water will flow is a daily stressor. Residents must skip work, keep kids home from school — even miss a wedding or funeral — just waiting for the precious necessity to arrive. Building upon a novel team project that won Berkeley’s Big Ideas competition, Sridharan cofounded NextDrop, which uses simple technology and cell phones to alert residents when water is running in their neighborhoods. It also delivers real-time data on reservoir levels to the utility to improve their distribution decisions. Today NextDrop is serving 50 percent of Hubli, India, and envisions expanding to other developing continents. Sridharan, chosen by Forbes in 2012 as a 30 under 30 social entrepreneur, said in a TedXTalk, “If we are supposed to solve the pressing problems of tomorrow, the only way we can do it is by questioning everything.” Follow NextDrop on Facebook or Twitter @nextdrop.
Although Wang dreamed of becoming a classical pianist, a tough talk with her Berkeley adviser shifted her ambitions. Today she is one of the world’s most influential women in technology. Dubbed “the pride of Taiwan,” she co-founded HTC Corporation, a leading maker of smartphones, and VIA Technologies, a chief developer of power-efficient PC silicon chips. A devout Christian, Wang uses her wealth to support education, including two partnerships between Berkeley and China’s Tsinghua University aimed at nurturing future leaders in global technology and understanding the psychological impacts of change on China’s people. She also established a vocational school in one of China’s poorest areas that fully funded 86 percent of its 300 freshmen during its first year. When Entrepreneur asked her what mistake tech leaders should avoid, Wang said, “… standing still. We must continue to ask ourselves ‘What’s next?'”
Although Morgan is best known for designing the European-inspired Hearst Castle, she was a trailblazing definer of California’s distinct Arts and Crafts style. She studied civil engineering — before the architecture department existed — and became the first woman to earn a certificate from Paris’s prestigious Ecole de Beaux-Arts. After returning to the Bay Area, she worked on Berkeley’s regal Hearst Mining Building and Greek Theatre, among other gems. She then started her own firm and designed an estimated 700 buildings, including, most notably, many women-commissioned projects — cementing her reputation as California’s first prominent female architect and one of the West Coast’s greatest designers of all time. An unassuming woman, Morgan said, “My buildings will be my legacy. They will speak for me long after I’m gone.” View an online exhibition on her life through Cal Poly’s Kennedy Library.