1997 Kyoto Prize Laureates

Advanced Technology


Federico Faggin

/  Semiconductor Engineer and Entrepreneur

1941 -

President, Synaptics, Inc.

Commemorative Lectures

My Life in Silicon Valley: Bringing New Products into the World


11 /11 Tue

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center


The Birth of Microprocessor and Future Possibility


11 /12 Wed

10:00 - 17:30

Place:Kyoto International Conference Center

Achievement Digest

Development of the World’s First Microprocessor

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.


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.


Born in Vicenza, Italy
Doctor in physics, University of Padua, Italy
SGS-Fairchild, Italy
Intel Corp., joined the development project for the 4004 microprocessor
President, Zilog Inc., U.S.A.
President, Cygnet Technologies, Inc.
President, Synaptics, Inc.
Selected Awards and Honors
International Marconi Fellowship Award, EnglandGold Medal for Science and Technology, Italy
"25 Years of Industry Achievement, Zilog Z80" with Shima, M. and other, Fall Comdex, U.S.A.
"The 1996 PC Magazine, Awards for Technical Excellence" with Hoff, M. E., Mazor, S. and Shima, M., Fall Comdex, U.S.A.
Major Works
"Standard Parts And Custom Design Merge In Four-Chip Processor Kit" with Hoff, M. E., Electronics
"The MCS-4 An LSI Microcomputer System" with Hoff, M. E., Mazor, S., Shima, M. and other, IEEE
3,821,715 Memory System for Multi-Chip Digital Computer, with Hoff, M. E. and Mazor, S.
"Trends In Microprocessors" IEEE
"Z80: Chip Set Heralds Third Microprocessor" Generation" with Shima, M. and other, Electronics
"How VLSI Impacts Computer Architecture" IEEE Spectrum
"The History of the 4004" with Hoff, M. E., Mazor, S. and Shima, M., IEEE Micro

Profile is at the time of the award.