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Brief History of the Progression of Electronics Technology


In the late 1960’s, many scientists had discussed the possibility of a computer on a chip, but nearly everyone felt that integrated circuit technology was not ready to support such a chip. In 1971, an Intel team developed such an architecture with just over 2,300 transistors in an area of only 3 by 4 millimeters. It was called the 4004 microprocessor. With its 4-bit CPU, command register, decoder, decoding control, control monitoring of machine commands and interim register, the 4004 was a great invention. It was used to build the first hand-held calculator. Suddenly, scientists and engineers could carry the computational power of a computer with them to job sites, classrooms, and laboratories. The microprocessor was developed by Robert Noyce, Ted Hoff, Federico Faggin and Stan Mazor. New manufacturing processes had to be invented in the manufacturing of these chips. A piece of dust or dirt too small to be seen by the human eye could prevent their successful manufacture. And thus, the clean room was born.

The Pioneer 10 spacecraft used the 4004 microprocessor. It was launched on March 2, 1972 and was the first spacecraft and microprocessor to enter the Asteroid Belt.

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