Close-up of Computer Chip CPU

The Intriguing History of Intel Microprocessors

This article on Intel's microprocessors will give you a brief timeline of the microprocessors developed and released by Intel Corporation over the past 42 years of its existence.
Learning about Intel will teach you a lot about how computer processors have evolved over the years, and how we have reached the advanced stage of processors today. Intel Corporation was founded in July 1968, and today is the world's biggest semiconductor chip manufacturer. The proportion of personal computers that run on Intel chips today is simply mind-boggling, to say the least. The company is based in Santa Clare, California, and the name was coined as an abbreviation of Integrated Electronics Corporation.

The First Step

Intel 4004 was the world's first single chip microprocessor, and was created by Intel in November 1971. Ted Hoff, Federico Faggin, and Stan Mazor were the people who came up with this amazing chip for the time, which combined the CPU, the memory, and the input/output ports of a computer on a single chip, which was astoundingly small for the time. This was only the beginning of the long history of computer processors.

The need for the 4004 chip came up in 1969, when a Japanese client called Busicom asked Intel to make them 12 different chips for a variety of computing purposes, for an advanced calculator. But Intel did not have enough people to make these chips, so they suggested that they could put all the features into one single chip. Busicom agreed, and the microprocessor was made. In another twist of events, Intel bought the chip back from Busicom for USD 60,000 after a few months, and Busicom soon went bankrupt without releasing a single product with the 4004 chip.

This microprocessor chip made it possible for manufacturers to realize the dreams that they had seen of developing computers that could work on integrated chips. The 4-bit chips produced in that age are a far cry from the 64-bit chips produced today, but the technology has remained the same. This was truly the start of a revolution, and it is fair to say that our world would have never been the same, if this chip had not been produced. The history of microprocessors owes a lot to this chip in particular.

Further Developments

From then on, Intel became synonymous with integrated circuits, and they became the custom chip providers for all computer enthusiasts in the computer industry. In April 1972, the 8008 chip was introduced, which was the first 8-bit chip ever. Another two years later, the 8080 chip was released, which increased the speed of functioning and the number of instructions executed per second by a great amount. The next step was to create microcontrollers, which were literally 'computers on chips'. The 8748 microcontroller was released in 1976, and this allowed users to control events in real-time and manage data at much faster speeds.

In 1978, the 8086 microprocessor was released which was a further enhancement of the 8080 chip. This chip used 16-bit architecture, and it was followed up by the 8088 chip in 1981. Competition was slowly catching up with Intel at this time though, so they released the 80186 and the 80286 microprocessors in 1982. This was a very important step in microprocessor and computer history as a whole, as these microprocessors were at least 3 times faster than those of competitors, and also finally allowed the user to multitask.

The next step was to move on to 32-bit processors, and this is how the 80386 and the 80486 came up. These processors were also known as the '386' and the '486' respectively, and they were used till the early nineties. The 386 was released in 1985, and the 486 was released in 1989.

Intel Pentium Microprocessor

This list of Intel microprocessors brings us to the amazing 80586 processor, which is used even today, with several modifications and upgrades, of course. The chip was initially a 32-bit chip with a speed of about 66 MHz; the 64-bit processors that are available today can clock speeds of up to 3.6 GHz. You must look at the Intel Core processors to see the real power and beauty of these devices, which are comfortably the best computer processors. The history of Intel processors has been long and winding, but it has culminated in a great offering to the world, which has changed our lives forever.

When Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore decided to start their own company and name it Intel, they had no idea how big they would actually become. History shows us that the world would have been very different without these two disgruntled men, who left the Fairchild Semiconductor Company, and brought the Intel Corporation to the world.
Intel 486 processor
Intel Headquarters