The Intel 4004 Microprocessor

The invention of the transistors was  a major milestone in the development of the microprocessors.The integrated chip could  greatly improve the use for transistors, but the problem was  that it could  do only what it was originally programmed to do. To change programs, think and store was out of equation.


Robert Noyce, the founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, had patented the silicon chip and intended to establish his reign in the field . The start up company “Integrated Electronics” aka  “Intel” was the seed sower of microprocessor .

Intel 4004 cpu – Interior



 In November, 1971 when a Japanese company named BUSICOM asked Intel  to have twelve custom chips designed. Separate chips for keyboard scanning, display control, printer control and other functions for a Busicom-manufactured calculator.Intel had to make the chips  and Ted Hoff got his chance..


When all the scientists believed that the possibility of a computer on a chip was not practicable and that the IC technology could not handle this, it was Ted who believed that he could improve the chips by squashing most of their functions onto a single central processing unit. Fortunately , he was the first person to recognize that the new silicon-gated MOS technology might make a single-chip CPU (central processing unit) possible and attempted the design.


The design of the first microprocessor was done by Ted and Frederico Faggin converted the design to the prototype.The result was a four-chip system, based around the Intel 4004 microprocessor. The process was a tiering and development works were to lengthy that BUSICOM was ready to let go the project. By understanding the value of the new invention Intel gained the ownership of the new chip and decided to gain the markets by developing components that used their product. The market gain thus obtained for Intel was remarkable which lead to further researches and developments in microprocessors. Thus Ted Hoff witnessed the birth of microprocessors and a new dawn.That first chip was called the 4004. The  architecture had just over 2,300 transistors in an area of only 3 by 4 milli metres etched into the silicon.


The Intel 4004 chip took the integrated circuit down one step further by placing all the parts that made a computer think (i.e. central processing unit, memory, input and output controls) on one small chip. Programming intelligence into inanimate objects had now become possible.  And all by itself it was as powerful as ENIAC computer built in 1946. But the size was a factor that had to be changed.The later researches were mainly based on decreasing the size of the microprocessors and increasing its capacity.


The main features of 4004 was  its 4-bit CPU, command register, decoder, decoding control, control monitoring of machine commands and interim register, which was then a miracle. Today’s 64-bit microprocessors are still based on similar designs, and the microprocessor is still the most complex mass-produced product.


In 2010 US President Barack Obama presented Ted with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation for his contributions in the development of a new era.

Indeed, what world witness today is the power of thinking of a one man army supported by a group of tech enthusiasts. 


Sometimes great dreams for a life time can change the perspective of the whole world….For that you just need to open your eyes and look into yourself..


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