Say Happy Birthday to the Original Microprocessor

November 18th, 2011

In November of 1971, Intel released the Intel 4004. It was the first CPU on a single chip! This week it celebrated its 40th birthday. This tiny microprocessor transformed computing forever, so we want to say thank you. The central processing unit, or CPU, retrieves and sends every bit of information use by a computer making it “the brain” of the computer. Imagine the impact a tiny CPU like the Intel 4004 made in the computing world. It inspired innovations and major advancements in CPU technology.

The Intel 4004 debuted as the processor for a calculator, but as this was the first microprocessor commercially available, it inspired some astounding leaps in computing. While CPUs today are significantly more powerful than their original ancestor, many common devices would not exist without the Intel 4004’s influence on computer science, including iPods, cell phones, streetlights, and laptops. Countless technologies that we enjoy in our daily lives today have a CPU. This makes the Intel 4004, quite literally, the grandfather of modern technology. Check out this article to see the evolution of the CPU’s role in technology.

We can’t acknowledge the Intel 4004 without introducing the engineers responsible for developing it. Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor made up the team responsible for the design and development of the Intel 4004. It’s easy to lose sight of the humble origins of today’s technological world, but the Intel 4004 reminds us of how far we have come.

So lets take a minute to reflect on how significant the CPU that grandfathered computer science has been.


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