Born Dec 1 1941
Memory System for a Multi-Chip Digital Computer
Patent Number(s) 3,821,715
One of the most important developments of the last half of the 20th century has been the microprocessor. It is found in virtually every automobile, medical device, and computer in the modern world. From its inception in 1969, the microprocessor industry has grown to hundreds of millions of units per year.
In the late 1960s, many articles had discussed the possibility of a computer on a chip. However, all concluded that the integrated circuit technology was not yet ready. Ted Hoff was the first to recognize that Intel's new silicon-gated MOS technology might make a single-chip CPU possible if a sufficiently simple architecture could be developed. Hoff developed such an architecture with just over 2000 transistors.
In 1969, the Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom asked Intel to complete the design and manufacture of a new set of chips. Ted Hoff was assigned to work with Busicom's engineers. Hoff realized that the Busicom's 12-chip design -- separate chips for keyboard scanning, display control, printer control, and other functions -- could not meet the cost objectives for the project. He proposed an alternate architecture in which a single-chip general-purpose computer central processor (CPU) would be programmed to perform most of the calculator functions. Busicom accepted the Intel proposal.
Further refinements in architecture and logic design were made by Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin and the chip was brought to silicon reality by Faggin. The first working CPU was delivered to Busicom in February, 1971.
This single chip had as much computing power as the first electronic computer, ENIAC (1946), which filled a room.
Although there was an initial reluctance on the part of Intel marketing to undertake the support and sale of these products to general customers, Hoff, Mazor, and Faggin actively campaigned for their announcement to the industry and helped define a support strategy that the company could accept. Intel formally announced the "4004" CPU in November, 1971.
The 4004 was designed and built under contract for Busicom -- they owned the rights to it. Intel acquired the rights by offering to return the $60,000 development cost and to produce the chip at a lower cost. As the basis for the modern computer revolution, maintaining rights on the 4004 technology appears to have been a good investment.
Hoff, Mazor, and Faggin were involved in Intel's second and third generation CPUs, the 8008 and 8080.<
Dr. Federico Faggin was born in Vicenza, Italy December 1, 1941. He graduated from Instituto Industriale at Vicenza in 1960. He received a doctorate in physics from the University of Padua in 1965. In 1968, he came to the US to join Fairchild in Palo Alto where he developed the original silicon gate technology. The 4004 project brought him to Intel in 1970. In 1974 he founded Zilog, Inc. which produced a new chip design for the fledgling personal computer industry. After a short stint with Exxon, he co-founded Cygnet Technologies in 1982 and Synaptics, Inc. in 1986 where he is currently president. He is a recipient of the Marconi Fellowship and IEEE W. Wallace McDowell award.