Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

40 Years of Intel Microprocessors

Intel 4004

It's been 40 years since Intel shipped the world's first single chip microprocessor.

Intel was formed by a handful of ex-Fairchild employees in the late 1960s. Japanese electronics manufacturer Busicom approached them in 1969 to develop a chipset for their new 141-PF electronic printing calculator, leading to the release of the Intel 4004 in late 1971. Busicom went on to sell over 100,000 Intel-based calculators, but they eventually found themselves in financial trouble. Intel used this to their advantage and was able to buy back the rights to the chip for non-calculator applications.

The 4004 was a tiny 4-bit processor with an 8-bit wide instruction set. It was capable of running at speeds up to 740 kHz and could address up to 4K of ROM and 1280 x 4bits of RAM, although the accompanying MCS-4 chipset included a tiny 256 byte mask-programmable ROM and 340 byte RAM chip. It seems laughable by todays standards, but those meager specifications were enough to open up a brand new world of programmable logic capable of replacing extremely complicated and expensive electromechanical systems.

Intel followed the success of this little 16 pin chip with the 8008, a 3,300 transistor 8-bit chip that was introduced in late 1972. The company went on the have a string of successes throughout the 1970s, but it was the incorporation of their processors into the IBM-PC lineup in the 1980s that enabled them to become the largest processor manufacturer in the world.

Incidentally, original 4004 chips are now highly collectible and a rare gold-white-grey chip like the one shown here can change hands for well over $1000. That said, I'd much rather have been given $1000 of Intel stock in the early 1970s - it'd be worth over $500,000 today -- enough for a massive stack of vintage chips.

More about the Intel 4004 at CPU-Zone


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