The Intel 4004: The Original Microprocessor

The Intel 4004 was the first CPU on a single chip and also the first available to the commercial market. This week it celebrated it’s 40th birthday! We would like to say thank you to the microprocessor that grandfathered the CPUs we have today. A CPU is the brain of a computer. Known as the central processing unit, every bit of information in or out of a computer goes though the CPU. Just imagine what the Intel 4004, a tiny yet powerful CPU, did for the computing world in 1971. CPUs have come a long way since then, but they remain a huge part of our everyday lives.

Created as the processor for a calculator, the Intel 4004 quickly became the brain of many other devices. Though CPUs today are exceedingly more powerful than their ancestor, our world would look considerably different if it wasn’t for the Intel 4004’s influence.  Everyday devices such as traffic lights, laptops, and cellphones would not exist without a CPU. The Intel 4004 has had a massive impact on computer science leading us into the modern world. You can see the evolving role of the CPU in technology here.

We can’t say happy birthday to the Intel 4004 without discussing the engineers responsible for its development. Federico Faggin led the design and development of the Intel 4004 with Ted Hoff, and Stan Mazor. In this ever-changing world of technology we can lose sight of its humble origins. The Intel 4004 was no small player in this.

So lets set aside a second to show our respect for the little microprocessor that grandfathered the present day CPU.


Posted on: 11.18.11