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It’s the 40th anniversary of the Intel 4004 tomorrow

World’s first commercially available microprocessor
Mon Nov 14 2011, 15:38

CHIPMAKER Intel will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 4004, the world's first commercially available microprocessor, tomorrow.

The Intel 4004 shattered what people thought of computers, and it signaled Intel's shift away from manufacturing memory and into what was going to become the industry that changed the world forever.

Like the birth of many revolutionary pieces of engineering, the 4004 was designed by a bunch of engineers working into the night on the promise of creating something completely different.

It might sound bashful, but Intel's 4004 wasn't particularly powerful, and the firm admitted, "The 4004 was not very powerful." It was primarily used to perform simple mathematical operations in a calculator called Busicom.

Intel's 4004 had 2,300 MOS transistors and was fabricated at a 10,000nm process node on 60mm wafers. In a graphic illustration of Moore's law, processors from Intel and AMD today typically have hundreds of millions of transistors and are fabricated at the 32nm process node on 300mm wafers.

But the numbers don't tell the whole story. The fact is that the 4004 was not just a new chip with a new micro-architecture, but it was a radical new way of thinking and building processors.

Check back tomorrow for The INQUIRER's full Intel 4004 anniversary analysis. µ

 

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