Together, four engineers (Dr. Faggin, Dr. Hoff, Mr. Mazor and Dr. Shima) developed the world's first microprocessor, the 4004. The four pioneers demonstrated that by integrating a few semiconductor chips, a microcomputer could be created which could perform a wide variety of functions. This paved the way for the development of all microprocessor-controlled industrial equipment and consumer electronics, contributing immeasurably to the creation of new industries, and to the progress of modern society.
Microcomputer no Tanjyo: Waga Seishun no 4004 (The Birth of the Microcomputer: 4004 in my young days), Iwanami Syoten, 1987.
Jisedai Microprocessor (The Next Generation of Microcomputers), Nihon Keizai Shimbun, 1995.
“The MCS-4 An LSI Microcomputer System” with others, IEEE
“An N-Channel 8-Bit Single Chip Microprocessor” with others, IEEE, ISSCC, 1974.
“Z-80 Chip Set Heralds Third Microprocessor Generation” with others, Electronics, 1976.
“Demysitfying Microprocessor Design” IEEE, 1979.
“The History of the 4004” with Hoff, M. E., Faggin, F. and Mazor, S., IEEE Micro, 1996.
A group of four engineers, Dr. Federico Faggin, Dr. Marcian Edward Hoff, Jr., Mr. Stanley Mazor, and Dr. Masatoshi Shima, co-developed in 1971 the world’s first general-purpose microprocessor, the 4004, which had a great impact on modern society, bringing about drastic changes in industrial and social structures worldwide.
The 4004 had 2,300 transistors mounted on a single silicon chip, measuring 3mm*4mm. Yet the 4004 could perform functions equivalent to an early computer’s central processing unit (CPU), which was as large as a room.
By combining the 4004 microprocessor with memories to store data and instructions, and I/O registers, a totally new system, the microcomputer, was developed. By changing configurations and programs, microcomputers can comply, at high efficiency, with user demands in a great variety of applications; for instance they can process numeric and text characters and graphics, and control various equipment and systems. Just as the invention of transistors and IC’s radically innovated electronic technologies, the development of the 4004 opened the door to a new age of programmable electronic components, and triggered further technological development. As a result, system construction technologies began to employ organic utilization of hardware and software, which in turn triggered the so-called “Second Industrial Revolution.” A quarter of a century has passed since the debut of the 4004, during which time data width increased from 4 bits to 8 bits, then to 16 bits, 32 bits, and most recently to 64 bits, along with extraordinary improvements in a machine’s computing and processing power. This amazing progress is attributable to the design concept of the first microprocessor, the 4004.
Today, microprocessors are incorporated in various tools and appliances used in our daily lives, including personal computers, consumer electronics products, automobiles, and telecommunication and medical equipment. In addition, microprocessors are widely employed in industrial machinery, especially machine tools. Of all devices invented by humans, nothing has had greater impact in such a short period of time than the microprocessor. The progress of electronics we now enjoy was triggered by the development of the 4004; electronic technology would not have developed as it did, were it not for the achievements of the four engineers: two Americans, one Italian, and one Japanese. For these reasons, The Inamori Foundation is pleased to bestow upon Dr. Federico Faggin, Dr. Marcian Edward Hoff, Jr., Mr. Stanley Mazor, and Dr. Masatoshi Shima the 1997 Kyoto Prizes in Advanced Technology.
The world’s first microprocessor, the 4004, was co-developed by Busicom, a Japanese manufacturer of calculators, and Intel, a U.S. manufacturer of semiconductors. During the development of a general-purpose LSI for desktop calculators and other business machines, originally based on a decimal computer and a stored program logic, a basic architecture, a framework of a binary computer, was developed in August 1969; a concrete plan for the 4004 system was finalized in December 1969; and the first microprocessor was finally completed in March 1971. The success of the 4004 is attributable to the cooperation between engineers of various development fields: applications, computers, software, LSI’s etc. By exchanging their expertise and ideas in an interdisciplinary way, and by addressing the great many problems with patience and a challenging spirit, these engineers sowed the seeds of a new technology and grew a finished product.
Microprocessors, which became the “technology to open up a new era,” had two outstanding impacts. First, microprocessors opened up a new “program age,” through replacing with software, the hardware logic circuit networks, comprising IC’s of the former “logic age.” This led to the development of “intelligent” microcomputers. At the same time, microprocessors allowed young engineers access to the power of computers, through which they could challenge established ideas, permitting the creative development of personal computers and computer games, which in turn led to growth in the software industry, and paved the way to the development of high-performance microprocessors.
Since creative development refers to the development of a product that does not yet exist, engineers involved in creative development can be likened to explorers who go into unmapped territory without a compass. Engineers and explorers share two contrasting feelings: hope for success and fear of failure. In addition, engineers can be likened to artists or religionists, who create their own world. To conceive a new concept in creative development, an engineer must be armed with the firm belief that his mission is nothing but development, and must be determined to go his own way, never following another’s tracks. The essential point of creative development is detaching oneself from one’s desire to use what is now available. It is never easy to abandon past achievements, conventional technologies, and know-how. To take the first step towards success, however, an engineer must analyze his past achievements and currently available technologies, and extract only the essence, eliminating the remainder.
A development that has many complex problems to be addressed can be compared to the fine cutting of a precious jewel. Like a jeweler who discovers, cuts, and polishes the mineral into a glittering jewel, engineers pour all their wisdom into creative development, and they find endless delight in the development process.