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Intel 4004, world's first commercial microprocessor, celebrates 40th birthday, ages gracefully

Amar Toor, @amartoo
November 15, 2011
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Pull out the candles and champagne, because the Intel 4004 is celebrating a major birthday today -- the big four-oh. That's right, it's been exactly four decades since Intel unveiled the world's first commercially available CPU, with an Electronic News ad that ran on November 15th, 1971. It all began in 1969, when Japan's Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation asked Intel to create 12 chips for its Busicom 141-PF calculator. With that assignment, engineers Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff and Stanley Mazor set about designing what would prove to be a groundbreaking innovation -- a 4-bit, 16-pin microprocessor with a full 2,300 MOS transistors, and about 740kHZ of horsepower. The 4004's ten micron feature size may seem gargantuan by contemporary standards, but at the time, it was rather remarkable -- especially considering that the processor was constructed from a single piece of silicon. In fact, Faggin was so proud of his creation that he decided to initial its design with "FF," in appropriate recognition of a true work of art. Hit up the coverage links below for more background on the Intel 4004, including a graphic history of the microprocessor, from the Inquirer.

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