Feeds

Intel's 4004 microprocessor calc code brought back to life

As the flowchart turns

Intelligent flash storage arrays

From the sweet as a nut files: we've come across a web site that has recreated the original software that ran on Intel's first commercial microprocessor - the 4004, released in 1971.

The story of the 4004's creation is the stuff of legend, and most semiconductor veterans will know the tale. For those who don't, here's a brief recap.

Japanese firm Busicom knocked on a fledgling Intel's door, asking for help creating a series of chips that could power a new line of calculators. Intel's engineers started cranking away on the project but found that creating lots of specialized chips proved too complex and costly. So, Federico Faggin, Ted Hoff, Stan Mazor and Busicom's Masatoshi Shima teamed to craft a more general purpose chip that could be programmed to handle a variety of jobs such as display and printer control.

With what would become the 4004 in hand, Intel talked Busicom into returning the rights to the design as a swap for refunding some development costs and giving Busicom a price cut on the chips.

This let Intel sell its chip - the first commercial microprocessor - to others.

A number of customers experimented with the 4004 and its follow-on, but it was the third generation 8080 put out in 1975 that really kicked Intel's microprocessor biz into overdrive. That chip made its way into hobby computer kits such as the Altair 8800.

(Those interested in more detail on this tale are urged to grab my book on Silicon Valley history or Leslie Berlin's beyond outstanding biography on Intel co-founder Bob Noyce.)

Now you can replicate some of the 4004 magic via a new simulator of the Busicom 141-PF calculator and copy of the code. In addition, you'll find an existing simulator of the actual microprocessor.

There's more on the 4004 at the Intel Museum in Santa Clara. The little museum is located at the front of Intel's headquarters. It's actually quite impressive for a small museum, teaching you a lot about Intel and the chip making process in a few, digestible exhibits. You even find out why the brilliant Noyce almost failed to graduate from college because of a pig. ®

Register editor Ashlee Vance has just pumped out a new book that's a guide to Silicon Valley. The book starts with the electronics pioneers present in the Bay Area in the early 20th century and marches up to today's heavies. Want to know where Gordon Moore eats Chinese food, how unions affected the rise of microprocessors or how Fairchild Semiconductor got its start? This is the book for you - available at Amazon US here or in the UK here.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop
Web giant looking into why version 5.0 of Android is crippling older slabs
All aboard the Poo Bus! Ding ding, route Number Two departing
Only another three days of pooing and I can have a ride!
Heyyy! NICE e-bracelet you've got there ... SHAME if someone were to SUBPOENA it
Court pops open cans of worms and whup-ass in Fitbit case
Official: European members prefer to fondle Apple iPads
Only 7 of 50 parliamentarians plump for Samsung Galaxy S
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
The IT Crowd's internet in a box gets $240k of crowdcash for a cause
'Outernet' project proposes satellite-fuelled 'Lantern' WiFi library for remote areas
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.