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Intel Celebrates 40th Anniversary of the Microprocessor

By - Source: Intel | B 56 comments

Intel's first microprocessor, the 4004, is 40 years old today.

On November 15, 1971, the chip was mentioned for the first time publicly in a half-page ad printed in Electronic News. Intel was just two years old back then and it was first to offer a CPU that was integrated entirely in one package.

The 4004 initially went against the idea of Intel co-founder Robert Noyce, who believed that selling an integrated chip as opposed to multiple chips would be a silly move from an economic view. The original effort to develop an integrated processor at Intel can be traced back to NASA engineer Austin Roche, who proposed the idea of developing a CPU to Intel during a meeting with Noyce in 1968. Noyce, in the end, gave $50,000 to Roche to develop the chip. A contract signed with Busicom in 1969 to develop 12 separate semiconductors for a programmable calculator laid the foundation for the 4004: Intel determined that only an integrated chip could meet the cost requirements of the product.

The 4004 was built with a total of 2300 transistors in a 10,000 nm process and was capable of running about 92,600 instructions per second. The first processor were clocked at 108 KHz, which was increased to 740 KHz in the production products, which were shipped to the first customer, Busicom, in February in 1971. However, Intel considers the ad in Electronic News as the real birthday of the CPU. As part of its contract with Busicom, Intel delivered three more support chips - the 4001 ROM, the 4002 RAM and the 4003 static shift register. Busicom, which owned the rights to the 4004 design through the contract with Intel, reportedly sold about 100,000 141-PF calculators with Intel's chips. Intel repurchased the rights to the 4004 design for $60,000.

According to Intel, current 32 nm CPUs are about 5000 times faster than the original 4004 and each transistor uses about 5000 times less energy, while the price of each transistor dropped by about 50,000 times.

That's progress.

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  • 22 Hide
    gmcizzle , November 15, 2011 5:15 PM
    pwnorbpwnd10,000 nm process vs. 32 nm the win is obviously going to go to the 4004

    I thought so, but I just want to be sure AMD has the edge over Intel.
  • 21 Hide
    gmcizzle , November 15, 2011 5:05 PM
    Benchmark the 4004 against bulldozer.
  • 20 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , November 15, 2011 5:10 PM
    gmcizzleBenchmark the 4004 against bulldozer.


    10,000 nm process vs. 32 nm the win is obviously going to go to the 4004
Other Comments
  • 21 Hide
    gmcizzle , November 15, 2011 5:05 PM
    Benchmark the 4004 against bulldozer.
  • 20 Hide
    pwnorbpwnd , November 15, 2011 5:10 PM
    gmcizzleBenchmark the 4004 against bulldozer.


    10,000 nm process vs. 32 nm the win is obviously going to go to the 4004
  • 22 Hide
    gmcizzle , November 15, 2011 5:15 PM
    pwnorbpwnd10,000 nm process vs. 32 nm the win is obviously going to go to the 4004

    I thought so, but I just want to be sure AMD has the edge over Intel.
  • 6 Hide
    BlackHawk91 , November 15, 2011 5:19 PM
    Let's get back in time: Which is the oldest intel CPU that you currently have laying around? Mine is a not so old Intel 80486DX2
  • 1 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 15, 2011 5:21 PM
    BlackHawk91Let's get back in time: Which is the oldest intel CPU that you currently have laying around? Mine is a not so old Intel 80486DX2


    486 or 386, I keep forgetting :D  Fully functional, just need to solder one of the chips on the VGA card back on. Then Celeron 500 MHz, then Celeron M 900 MHz, then Celeron M 1.8 GHz and then i7-2600 which FINALLY broke the Celeron curse for me :) 
  • 0 Hide
    stratplaya , November 15, 2011 5:24 PM
    I still have my 386 lying around here somewhere.
  • 1 Hide
    f-14 , November 15, 2011 5:27 PM
    my first intel processor
    CP1610 16-bit CPU running at 894.886 KHz
    which also came with my first activision games.
  • 0 Hide
    f-14 , November 15, 2011 5:28 PM
    because toms url link does not work still
    http://www.maniacworld.com/game_console_history/MattelIntellivision.htm
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , November 15, 2011 5:29 PM
    BlackHawk91Let's get back in time: Which is the oldest intel CPU that you currently have laying around? Mine is a not so old Intel 80486DX2

    Earliest was a Pentium II, not with us any more though. P4's still in service, so is a Pentium M, both roughly the same age i think...
  • 2 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , November 15, 2011 5:30 PM
    BlackHawk91Let's get back in time: Which is the oldest intel CPU that you currently have laying around? Mine is a not so old Intel 80486DX2


    286 - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compaq_Portable
    Also a 386DX-40 motherboard and nothing else.

    Doubt either of them would work without a lot of work.

    EDIT - after a bit more research my Compaq has an 8088 processor in it. Ahh, fond memories of that machine. I learned how to program PASCAL on it. Which was a lot more fun then assembly on a Commodore 64.
  • 0 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , November 15, 2011 5:30 PM
    Quote:
    because toms url link does not work still
    http://www.maniacworld.com/game_console_history/MattelIntellivision.htm


    It works. You must have a word in between "" tags, though.
  • 2 Hide
    deathengine , November 15, 2011 5:31 PM
    My first PC was an AMD 286 at 12MHZ. It was fast at that time. Jeez doesnt seem like it was so long ago.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , November 15, 2011 5:31 PM
    f-14because toms url link does not work still

    Not true.
  • 0 Hide
    resetrsx , November 15, 2011 5:33 PM
    I have a 386DX-100 (100 mhz) in my attic.
  • 0 Hide
    resetrsx , November 15, 2011 5:36 PM
    ^ it used to barely run Windows 95.
  • 1 Hide
    jimmysmitty , November 15, 2011 5:37 PM
    BlackHawk91Let's get back in time: Which is the oldest intel CPU that you currently have laying around? Mine is a not so old Intel 80486DX2


    I have a 286 and Cyrix 386 somewhere.
  • 1 Hide
    JasonAkkerman , November 15, 2011 5:42 PM
    resetrsxI have a 386DX-100 (100 mhz) in my attic.


    Sure it wasn't a 486DX-100 (33Mhz * 3)? Not sure Intel made a 386 that went high.
  • 2 Hide
    webbwbb , November 15, 2011 5:51 PM
    I have an 8008.
  • 2 Hide
    jasonp4113 , November 15, 2011 5:53 PM
    Ahhhh, but will the 4004 play Crysis?
  • 0 Hide
    resetrsx , November 15, 2011 5:58 PM
    JasonAkkermanSure it wasn't a 486DX-100 (33Mhz * 3)? Not sure Intel made a 386 that went high.


    Yeah, it was one of their later 386 models.
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