The Intel 4004 Launched 40 Years Ago Today, Ushered in Digital Era

bp9801 - November 15, 2011 02:19PM in CPU's

Forty years ago today, a little company known as Intel released the Intel 4004, the world's first commercially available microprocessor. This was a huge step in the world of computers and helped to usher in the digtal era. Previously, computers were built using vacuum tubes, resistors, and diodes. Vacuum tubes are not exactly the smallest thing in the world, so early computers were rather large. Enter the Intel 4004, which was a microprocessor that enabled computers to shrink down to a much more manageable size. Microprocessors made it so that anything could have computing potential, from cars to cell phones to game systems. In the past forty years, microprocessors have made huge leaps in performance and size, with Intel stating a current second-gen Intel Core processor has more than 350,000 times the performance of the Intel 4004, with each transistor using 5,000 times less energy. Who knows what the next forty years will bring, but today we can at least celebrate the launch of the Intel 4004 and the digital era.