facts about the invention
of the Microprocessor by M.E.
|When it first started in the
mid-sixties, Intel produced electronic memory components. Ted Hoff was employee number 12
at the company assigned to work with minicomputers and in June, 1968, he was asked to
liaison with a group of Japanese engineers from a company called Busicom. They'd
approached Intel with a design for a small calculator--a design which called for 12
different semiconductor-based custom chips to handle various of its functions. Hoff says
he looked at the design and struggled with it for a while, but eventually decided there
had to be a better way.
|He felt that programming
through read-only memory and general-purpose registers could replace the separate (i.e.,
discrete) components the Busicom engineers had requested. When he presented his idea to
Intel's then chairman, Robert Noyce, the boss was enthusiastic. But when the design was
presented to Busicom's engineers, it almost died right there. They didn't want to change
their design, but we were able to convince them to allow us to make a pitch directly to
the owners of the company. We held an off-site meeting in October. Their engineers made
their pitch and we made ours. Busicom's management bought ours.
It took another nine
months before a team of Intel engineers, led by Frederico Faggin, could turn Hoff's ideas
into hardware. The original 4004 was a silicon-based chip measuring 1/8th of an inch long
by 1/16th of an inch wide, containing either 2,108 or 2,300 transistors (it depends on who
you ask--Hoff's count is 2,108 but, he says, Faggin included 192 "virtual
transistors" in his count). It had about the same amount of computing power as the
original ENIAC which weighed 30 tons, occupied 3,000 cubic feet of space and used 18,000
It didn't take Intel long to discover it had something here. The only problem was that
the company didn't have it. The 4004 belonged to Busicom (which was also sometimes known
as Nippon Calculator). Noyce and his crew flew to Japan and bought back the rights for
$60,000. A short time later, Busicom went bankrupt.
"The first microprocessors were industrial controllers," says Hoff. No one
really thought of using them in computers. Instead, they wound up as embedded controllers
in things like automated gas pumps, traffic controllers and manufacturing pressure and
flow meters." In the 1970s refinements in integrated circuit technology led to
the development of the modern microprocessor, integrated circuits that contained thousands
of transistors. Modern microprocessors contain millions.
Dr. Ted Hoff doesn't work for Intel any more. After a brief stint at Atari, he's become
chief technical officer and a consultant for a small California firm called Teklicon,
specializing in patent research. He says he couldn't have anticipated what his
microprocessor would become and there have been surprises--such as the amount of progress
in miniaturization that has occurred (the first 4004 used gateways 10 microns wide
compared to today's .35 microns). But he's even more delighted over the social impact
microcomputers have had and continue to have.
Computing from The Great Idea
Ted Hoff, Inventor Profile from The Great Idea Finder
ON THE BOOKSHELF:
Digital Future: The Secrets of Consistent Innovation at Intel
by Albert Yu / Hardcover - 256 pages (August 1998) / Free Press
The history and culture of Intel and shows how the company maintains the mindset
of a 30-year-old start-up.
Only the Paranoid Survive : How to Exploit the Crisis Points That
Challenge Every Company
by ANDREW S. GROVE / Paperback: 240 pages / Doubleday (March 16, 1999)
Under Andy Grove's leadership, Intel has become the world's largest chip
maker and one of the most admired companies in the world. In Only the
Paranoid Survive, Grove reveals his strategy
High Output Management
by ANDREW S. GROVE / Paperback: 272 pages / Vintage; Reissue edition
(August 29, 1995)
IHigh Output Management teaches you what techniques and indicators you
can use to make even corporate recruiting as precise and measurable as
Inside Intel: Andy Grove and the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Chip
Company (Out of print.)
by Tim Jackson / Paperback: 432 pages / Plume; (November 1998)
By combining public records, private documents, and interviews with more than 100
of those who know the company best, Financial Times columnist Tim Jackson has produced the
fascinating, definitive story.
ON THE WEB:
Invention Dimension - Inventor
of the Week
Celebrates inventor/innovator role models through outreach activities and annual
awards to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Featured may, 1996, Ted Hoff for his invention of the misroprocessor.
Hall of Fame
Located at Inventure Place, the online home of creative minds. Marcian E. (Ted)
Hoff was inducted in 1996 for his invention of the Memory System for a Multi-Chip Digital
Computer (CPU), Patent Number 3,821,715
Anniversary for Microprocessor
Article by Myles White for the Toronto Star, Fast Forward, fron November, 1996.
At Intel's interactive history of the Microprocessor.
Silicon Genesis - Ted Hoff
Pioneers Interview with Marcian (Ted) Hoff March 3, 1995 Los Altos Hills, CA.
A patent on the microcontroller predating the Hoff, Mazor, Faggin patent
was granted to Gilbert Hyatt in 1990. This patent described the
architecture and logic design of a microcontroller, claiming that it
could be integrated into a single chip. This patent was later
invalidated in a patent interference case brought forth by Texas
Instruments, on account that the device it described was never
implemented and was not implementable with the technology available at
the time of the invention.
Yet Another 'Father' of the Microprocessor Wants Recognition From the
Chip Industry. Article by Dean Takahashi for The Wall Street Journal..
HOW IT WORK:
How Microprocessors Work
Based on a real-life exhibit installed in the Intel Museum in Santa Clara, California. From the learning about Journey series at Intel.
DID YOU KNOW:
- The Intel Pentium Pro, contains 5.5 million transistors; the
UltraSparc-II, by Sun Microsystems, contains 5.4 million transistors; the PowerPC620,
developed jointly by Apple, IBM, and Motorola, contains 7 million transistors; and the
Digital Equipment Corporation's Alpha 21164A, contains 9.3 million transistors.
- The original 4004 had about the same amount of computing
power as the original ENIAC which weighed 30 tons, occupied 3,000 cubic feet of space and
used 18,000 vacuum tubes.
Sources in BOLD Type
page revised August 23, 2005.
Berners-Lee's invention has revolutionized the world like nothing
The invention of the Internet,
should be classed with the greatest events of the 20th Century.
The Aero Sport All-Terrain Bed
with Dual Power Pump is the perfect addition to any camping trip or weekend
book, is the perfect desktop reference for both the science novice and the
technologically advanced reader alike.
CELEBRATE WITH US