Rising importance for Intel's CPUs

Rising importance for Intel's CPUs

Hoff's team kept on improving the 4004, and the following year, they had perfected the 8008, which possessed a much higher integration and was faster, as it could process 8 bits at once.

However, the development of the first microprocessors at Intel was financially supported by the revenues of the company's memory chips, which could be sold in ever increasing numbers. The breakthrough in microprocessors took place in 1974, when Intel intro duced its 8080, which is seen as a landmark invention that "reshaped the modern world.") This microprocessor was much more highly integrated than its predecessors, and with 290,000 operations per second it offered ten times the performance of the 8008. Th e 8080 reached an enormous market response and soon became industry standard. Together with the competing microprocessors meanwhile developed by Motorola (6809) and Zilog (Z80), as well as Chuck Peddle's 6509 at MOS Tech, the 8080 became the heart of the f irst personal computers.

By the time, Intel's microprocessors became the company's most successful products, especially in 1980, when IBM entered the PC business and decided upon the Intel chips as its computers' CPUs.

So far, Intel's rapid rise had been breathtaking. The three founders had established a company which revolutionized the semiconductor world by its developments such as microprocessors and memory chips and made a lot of other companies - a whole industry - follow into this new market.

In its fourth year (1971), net revenues already reached almost $10 million - a number that should be boosted up to $23, $66 and $134 million in the following years. Employing more than 10,000 people, the company continued its explosive growth with sales at $282 million in 1977.

Unrelentingly, Intel kept researching and refining its microchips. In 1978, the company had perfected its first 16-bit microprocessor, the 8086. It was ten times faster than the previous 8080, incorporated 27,000 transistors on a tiny chip of silicon, and should again become industry standard. However, competition was fierce in the following year, when Motorola competed with its 68000 CPU against Intel's 8086 and the 8088, which was similar (operating internally with 8-bit) to the 8086 and came out in 1979. Intel responded to the hot competition with increasing its research work on new chip designs that supported its CPU applications, with more training for its employees and with an aggressive ad campaign led by Regis McKenna's PR agency, in order to establi sh the 8086/8088 as the industry standard.

Martin Groeger http://www.silicon-valley-story.de
Last modified: Mon Jul 8 05:28:13 PDT