The Microprocessor and I: It All Starts with the Application
Abstract of the lecture
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.