Intel Releases the the World’s First Commercial Microprocessor

Back when I was in charge of Intel's manufacturing and engineering, we were in the throes of introducing a new product: a set of microchips, which we used in combinations to build everything from calculators to postage meters.

They were electronic Lego blocks of sorts. Beyond that, they were chips like any others we were building in those days—if anything, simpler than the complex memory chips that occupied our attention. So it was with amazement that we manufacturing types greeted the trade-paper ad that appeared on Nov. 15: "Announcing a New Era of Integrated Electronics," it trumpeted. Frankly, I was horrified; what was this new era? What was so special? Looking back, the marketing folks were on to something. Digital electronics was growing rapidly. Customers began demanding improvements leading to more and more complex versions of the building blocks. We called them microprocessors, and they became the soul of the personal computer.

Grove is the chairman of the board of Intel

Intel released the 4004 4-bit central processing unit , the world’s first commercially available microprocessor, employed a 10 μm silicon-gate enhancement load pMOS technology and could execute approximately 92,000 instructions per second.

Packaged in a 16-pin ceramic dual in-line package, the 4004 is the first computer processor designed and manufactured by chip maker Intel, which previously made semiconductor memory chips. The chief designers of the chip were Federico Faggin and Ted Hoff of Intel, and Masatoshi Shima of Busicom.

Federico Faggin is an Italian physicist/electrical engineer, principally responsible for the design of the microprocessor and responsible for leading the 4004 (MCS-4) project to its successful outcome and for promoting its marketing.

Federico Faggin was the only chip designer among the engineers participating to the MCS-4 project. He was also the only one with experience in MOS random logic and circuit design and with the crucial intimate knowledge of the new silicon gate process technology with self-aligned gates he had created at Fairchild in 1968.

At Fairchild, in 1968, Faggin also designed and manufactured the world’s first commercial IC using SGT – the Fairchild 3708.

As soon as he joined the Intel MOS Department he created a new random design methodology based on silicon gate, and contributed many technology and circuit design inventions that enabled a single chip microprocessor to become a reality for the first time. His methodology set the design style for all the early Intel microprocessors and later for the Zilog’s Z80.

On 15 November 2006, the 35th anniversary of the Intel 4004, Intel celebrated by releasing the chip’s schematics, mask works, and user manual.

Intel introduces an integrated CPU complete with a 4-bit
parallel adder, sixteen 4-bit registers, an accumulator
and a push-down stack on one chip. It's one of a family
of four new ICs which comprise the MCS-4 micro
computer system--the first system to bring you the
power and flexibility of a dedicated general-purpose
computer at low cost in as few as two dual in-line

MCS-4 systems provide complete computing and
contral functions for test systems, data terminals, billing
machines, measuring systems, numeric control systems
and process control systems.

The heart of any MCS-4 system is a Type 4004 CPU,
which includes a powerful set of 45 instructions. Adding
one or more Type 4001 ROMs for program storage
and data tables gives you a fully functioning micro-
programmed computer. To this you may add Type 4002
RAMs for read-write memory and Type 4003 registers
to expand the output ports.

Using no circuitry other that ICs from this family of
four, you can create a system with 4096 8-bit bytes of
ROM storage and 5120 bits of RAM storage. When
you require rapid turn-around or need only a few
systems, Intel's erasable and re-programmable ROM,
Type 1701, may be substituted for the Type 4001 mask-
programmed ROM.

MCS-4 systems interface easily with switches, key-
boards, displays, teletypewriters, printers, readers, A-D
converters and other popular