Friday, November 18, 2011

The Intel 4004: The Original Microprocessor

The Intel 4004 was the first CPU on a single chip as well as the first available to the commercial market. This week it celebrated it’s 40th birthday! We would like to say thank you to the microprocessor that grandfathered the CPUs we have today. A CPU is the brain of a computer. Known as the central processing unit, every piece of information in or out of a computer goes though the CPU. Just imagine what the Intel 4004, a tiny yet powerful CPU, did for the computing world in 1971. CPUs have come a long way since then, but they remain a huge part of our everyday lives.

The Intel 4004 debuted as the processor for a calculator, but as this was the first microprocessor commercially available, it inspired some incredible leaps in computing. While CPUs today are a lot more powerful than their original ancestor, many common devices would not exist without the Intel 4004’s influence on computer science, including iPods, cell phones, streetlights, and laptops. Millions of technologies that we enjoy in our daily lives today have a CPU. This makes the Intel 4004, quite literally, the grandfather of modern technology. Check out this article to see the evolution of the CPU’s role in technology.

While we celebrate Intel 4004’s birthday, I want to recognize the engineers who created it. Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor were responsible for the planning and development of the Intel 4004. This little microprocessor reminds us of the humble origins of the ever-changing world of technology.

So lets set aside a second to show our esteem for the little microprocessor that grandfathered the modern CPU.

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