|Intel - The Microprocessor Revolution|
|Thursday, 28 October 2021|
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The microprocessor goes forth
The MCS-4 could only be sold to Busicom who had paid for most of the development. A little later on a slump in the calculator market forced Busicom to ask Intel to lower the price of the MCS-4. Intel agreed but only if they could sell the chip set for non-calculator applications - Busicom agreed.Intel’s marketing department wasn’t so sure that this was a good thing. The sales of minicomputers were so low that volume production of the MCS-4 looked unlikely. Of course, the sales of minicomputers had no bearing on the potential sales of microcomputers, but the MCS-4 was seen at the time as a minicomputer replacement. The problem was solved by Arthur Rock who simply recognised a good thing when he saw it and told the board of directors so. The MCS-4 was announced at the end of 1971 and they sold a modest $85,000 worth of them by the start of 1972.
Even with the 4004 Intel thought it had a big computer to sell!
While Intel was working on the MCS-4 another project was going in the direction of a microprocessor implementation. CTC (Computer Terminal Corporation) wanted a chip set for a VDU and, because this had to work with characters, the processor that Ted Hoff decided to design had to be an 8-bit processor. CTC, however had other ideas. They took their plans to Texas Instruments who designed an 8-bit processor for them. It was never used because CTC decided to implement their design using TTL logic chips by the bucket-load.
Although the CTC project came to a sudden end, Hal Feeney continued with the design assisted by Stan Mazor and Ted Hoff.
The first 8-bit processor, the 8008
The 8008, as it was designated, was introduced in 1972 as the first general purpose 8-bit microprocessor. It supported 45 instructions, a 30us execution time, six general purpose registers, an address space of 16Kbytes and it was packaged in an 18-pin DIP. If you put it together with around 20 other chips you had a machine that was recognizable as a computer.
The 8008 started the microprocessor revolution and led directly to the 8080 and eventually the 80486, the Pentium and beyond. Intel had its second big hit and sales reach $66 million by 1978. Noyce was worth $18.5 million and the company’s stock value had tripled.
Robert Noyce, Gordon Moore and Andy Grove
Silicon Valley’s first giant was established and there were more to come.
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|Last Updated ( Saturday, 25 March 2023 )|