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Intel Releases 4004 Microprocessor Schematics 174

mcpublic writes, "Intel is celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Intel 4004, their very first microprocessor, by releasing the chip's schematics, maskworks, and users manual. This historic revelation was championed by Tim McNerney, who designed the Intel Museum's newest interactive exhibit. Opening on November 15th, the exhibit will feature a fully functional, 130x scale replica of the 4004 microprocessor running the very first software written for the 4004. To create a giant Busicom 141-PF calculator for the museum, 'digital archaeologists' first had to reverse-engineer the 4004 schematics and the Busicom software. Their re-drawn and verified schematics plus an animated 4004 simulator written in Java are available at the team's unofficial 4004 web site. Digital copies of the original Intel engineering documents are available by request from the Intel Corporate Archives. Intel first announced their 2,300-transistor 'micro-programmable computer on a chip' in Electronic News on November 15, 1971, proclaiming 'a new era of integrated electronics.' Who would have guessed how right they would prove to be?"
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Intel Releases 4004 Microprocessor Schematics

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  • 4004 tic tac toe (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Salvance ( 1014001 ) * on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:40AM (#16848502) Homepage Journal
    The 4004 tic tac toe hardware from their unofficial site looks wicked ... []. I never thought I'd be drooling over electronic tic tac toe!
  • Re:640k (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:55AM (#16848600) Homepage Journal

    Ah, back in the good old days when 640K _was_ enough for anyone...

    Dude, my first computer had 256 Bytes (not K -- *BYTES*) of memory (Built form the September 1976 issue of Popular Electronics -- Build Your Own Microcomputer, based on the COSMAC 1802 processor). 640K was beyond freaking imagination.

  • Re:Fast-forward (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jmv ( 93421 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:08AM (#16848684) Homepage
    While not binary compatible, the 8086 [] was a 16-bit improvement of the 8-bit 8080 [], which was compatible with the 8008 [], which AFAIK wasn't too far from the 4-bit 4040 [] and the 4004 []... and that's why the space shuttle's boosters are sized according to a horse's rear end [] and a 64-bit quad core CPU architecture that is influenced by the first 4-bit microcontroller.
  • Era of Intel's Ways (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:13AM (#16848714) Homepage Journal
    Intel patented the 4004, which they tried to use to enforce a patent on the "microprocessor" generally - though Gilbert Hyatt [] eventually won it, 20 years later.

    Does Intel still have a working patent protecting the 4004? And doesn't that patent include the schematics? What's the point of patenting an invention if other inventors can't tell whether they're reinventing what you've protected from "infringement"?
  • Re:Reverse Engineer? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:43AM (#16848828)
    Yes, because in 'forward' engineering, you know what you want the product to do, and design the schematics for the chip accordingly. In reverse engineering, in this case, you start with the schematics and determine how exactly it does what it does.

    My background's limited to a couple simple electronics courses, but hopefully my point's clear...

    The chip's schematic, in a way, does 'show' how everything's achieved, but I would presume this is more complicated than a simple 'battery, switch, light bulb' schematic from a fifth grade science project; which could be reverse engineered without even consciously applying any thought to it! I can only imagine how complex it would be be to analyze this schematic to the point that you understand exactly how and why it's doing what it's doing for any given 'computation' or process...
  • More Relevant Info? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by octalman ( 169480 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:52AM (#16848866)
    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but as I recall the 4004 wasn't a single-chip microprocessor. Depending on the chip set used, it took from two to four chips to put together a working microprocessor.
    Intel's first shur-nuff single-chip microprocessor was the gosh-awful, horribly slow 8008. They took so long to get past the 8008 and the only marginally better 8080 that Zilog brought out a much-improved, instruction set compatible version, the Z80, which dominated the microprocessor market for a number of years.
    The first true computer-on-a-chip was Motorola's 6800, but they muffed their opportunity by waiting too long to market it and priced it too high. Worse, some employees stole their chip masks and modified the design, which they sold (cheaply, compared to the 8008 and 6800) as the 6502, which was adopted for the Apple. Motorola sued and got the 6502, which they continued to sell, but lost years of opportunity and the chance to dominate the whole market.
  • by QuantumHack ( 58048 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:47AM (#16852744) Homepage
    Well, another of Federico Faggin's designs, the Z80, has been implemented in VHDL (and Verilog). I implemented the T80, a VHDL variant, along with a VGA-grade video interface, and a triple-ported SDRAM interface into a Xilinx XC3S1000. The combination only used 3% of resources in the FPGA, but the processor itself was about 1%.

    The 4004 had 3900 transistors, and the 8080 had 6000, and the Z80 had more than that (more instructions). So, let's say for argument's sake that the Z80 is about twice the size of the 4004.

    If that's true, then you can stuff about 200 clones of the 4004 in a Xilinx $15 million-gate Spartan FPGA, and have block RAMs left over for program memory. Wow, I'm sure the Beowulf guys are scared now ;-)
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @02:51PM (#16856166) Homepage Journal
    Well, some of us do and think todays processors are overkill and needed mainaly due to people having forgot how to code properly.

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. -- Thomas Alva Edison