The integrated chip greatly improved the use for transistors, but it
could only do what it was originally programmed to do. It couldn't
change programs, and it certainly couldn't remember anything.
One young scientist at Intel, Ted
, thought he could make something better. When a Japanese
company named BUSICOM asked Intel to make the chips for its new line
of calculators, Hoff got his chance.
Intel had to convince BUSICOM that it was worth their while to invest
in a new chip instead of the more basic design their engineers had
devised. Instead of an -- albeit complicated -- circuit, this
chip was to be an entire mini-computer unto itself. Hoff designed
the chip, and engineer Frederico Faggin set about building the design
into a workable product. But BUSICOM started to get impatient
-- the ideas were risky and development was taking too long.
But Intel knew it had a winner. They offered to return the entire
$40,000 investment to BUSICOM, thus putting the Japanese company at
ease, and gaining ownership of the new chip for itself.
That first chip was called the 4004. It was 1/8" by 1/16" with
2300 transistors etched into the silicon. And all by itself
it was as powerful as ENIAC,
the early (mammoth at 30 tons!) computer built in 1946.
-- Crystal Fire by Michael Riordan and Lillian Hoddeson
Anniversary of the Microprocessor
-- Knowledge Context: The Microprocessor
Genesis: Interview with Ted Hoff
1999, ScienCentral, Inc, and The American Institute of Physics.
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