The History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer

Jos

TS Evangelist
G

Guest

I learnt everything I need to know from 'Halt and Catch Fire'. That chick blows.
 
G

Guest

Loved the article. The 4004's pMOS logic is just really beautiful to look at.
 
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Ranger12

TS Evangelist
This would make a great book. Two thumbs up!
It's called The Intel Trinity if you want to read more. Excellent book.

Also, Fairchild is a fantastic study in corporate culture. A true precursor to modern Western, Silicon Valley type corporate cultures, the semi-conductor division of Fairchild was very much like today's Google's and Facebook's. The very horizontal corporate structure clashed with Fairchild Camera and Instruments Eastern vertical structure. When Fairchild's semiconductor division started bleeding talent all over what would be Silicon Valley the West coast corporate culture and structure followed giving the place its uniqueness.
 
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dividebyzero

trainee n00b
It's called The Intel Trinity if you want to read more. Excellent book.
Yes it is. I would also recommend "Inside Intel" by Tim Jackson, "The Semiconductor Business: Economics of Rapid Growth and Decline" by Franco Malerba, and "History of Semiconductor Engineering" by Bo Lojek (more personalized).
There is of course a pretty comprehensive (and free) oral histories series being compiled at the Computer History Museum. History through the interviews of people who made it.

I am indebted to all these sources and many, many more for providing some of the background and inspiration for the article series.
 
G

Guest

This makes some fascinating reading, esp going back to the 60s where a lot of the hard and pioneering work was done.
 

dividebyzero

trainee n00b
"Clones" include Zilog, AMD & NEC? All tried to leapfrog Intel's efforts in the 8-bit CPU afaik.
I was referring to IBM Model 5150 clones actually.
As for CPU's, the Zilog Z80 wasn't a clone - Federico Faggin improved the Intel design he created. NEC originally just copied the 8086 (16-bit) from photographs - so "clone" is correct for the early 16-bit parts, but the later V20 and V40 also improved the basic design (which is why NEC won their later patent case against Intel).
AMD were a second-source licensee of the 8-bit 8085 and used Intel masks as did NEC, Siemens, OKI, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi , so less clones than a rebranded licensed copy.
The earlier 8080 (also 8-bit) was also built as licensed second-source (the same IHV's as for the 8085 with the addition of National Semiconductor, Texas Instruments, Signetics, and NTE)
As far as I'm aware the only "clones" (unlicensed Intel copies) came out of the Eastern Bloc
 
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Mugsy

TS Evangelist
Maybe it's just me, but how does a story entitled "History of the Microprocessor" never even mention the ubiquitous 6502?
 

dividebyzero

trainee n00b
Maybe it's just me, but how does a story entitled "History of the Microprocessor" never even mention the ubiquitous 6502?
I can't help it if you stopped reading at the end of part 1.
The article clearly states the timeframe of 1947-1974 for the first part of the series. MOS Tech's 6502 didn't arrive until just after mid-1975.
 

Mugsy

TS Evangelist
I can't help it if you stopped reading at the end of part 1.
The article clearly states the timeframe of 1947-1974 for the first part of the series. MOS Tech's 6502 didn't arrive until just after mid-1975.
I'm reading Part 2 now. Still greatly understates the influence of the early chip.

Yes it was in the Apple ][ and the few others mentioned. But the damn thing was the heart & soul of everything from smart toasters to the famed Atari VCS. You couldn't find a home w/o a 6502 in it somewhere in the late 70's.

To read the article, one might think the Z80 and CP/M were as commonplace as the 6502.
 

Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
Excellent Article ... my only recommendation is to make it downloadable as a .pdf for saving and sharing. I can think of a LOT of people I would love to pass this on to .....
 

brcollette

TS Rookie
Oh thank you for this outstanding article. I am an accountant who should have become an electrical engineer and I just love reading about all this stuff. Absolutely fascinating. Great work !
 

quadibloc

TS Addict
The initial part of the article paints a picture of an industry that was all giant mainframes before the microprocessor came along. But there were also minicomputers. While a PDP-8 would still be too expensive for an ordinary individual, it certainly was an intermediary between those two worlds.
 

Markoni35

TS Maniac
And you forgot to EVEN MENTION the inventor of the first programmable digital computer!?!? No, I'm not talking about Alan Turing. I'm talking about the real inventor for the first programmable digital computer. I bet you don't even know his name.

But people in IBM knew his name, because they bought all of his inventions and used them to become technological leaders in computing. All the mainframe computers and later microprocessors are based on the design of this man.

Even though he used very primitive technology, electrical relays, his programmable computer from 1941 was so advanced it had a FPU. Yeah, floating-point unit. Something that Intel CPUs didn't get until about 45 years later. He had that in 1941. And you couldn't even mention the name of this genius? Incredible.