Happy Birthday, Intel 4004!

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 small 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 amazing leaps in computing. While CPUs today are a lot 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. Millions of 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 say happy birthday to the Intel 4004 without talking about 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 take a minute to reflect on how significant the CPU that grandfathered computer science has been.


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