Innovation: The World's first MPU 4004
Alongside to the IC, the invention of the
"micro-processor" (MPU - Micro Processing Unit) is the greatest invention of the
20th century in the field of electronics. The MPU brought the birth of "personal
computers" during the latter half of 1970 and this P.C. has contributed to the vast
change in the office and home. Intel was the first MPU producer and has been holding a
large share in the world market of this product.
That start was initiated by the commercial negotiation with the industries in Japan.
Within 12 months of the company establishment, Intel made their bold plan to reach their
commercial production of "DRAM" and, at that time, Intel was very interested in
the Semi-conductor for the Electronic Calculators which were being rapidly developed. The
reason being was that the development of the above semi-conductors for Electronic
Calculators was a product that coincided with Intel's strategy. i.e. mass production of
Timely as it was at that time, "Busicom" company gave an order for
semi-conductors. The time was 1969 and Busicom was planning to sell high-performance
calculators for scientific calculations, etc and gave orders to the newly started Intel to
produce 13 different types of semi-conductors. At the time Intel was still procrastinating
whether they should go with this production or not. The reason for the procrastination was
that Intel had previously only produced three types of product. Just then, Mr. Ted Hoff,
who was an ex researcher from Stanford University, joined Intel. When he heard about the
orders from Busicom he saw a chance to realise an idea he had had in his mind for some
time. According to the instructions from Busicom, respective semi-conductor chips were
supposed to be used for each function, computing, keyboard control, printer control
respectively. Mr. Hoff's thinking was an integrated circuit (I.C.) which would accommodate
multiple instructions on to a single chip.
Mr. Hoff completed his detailed design plan before a revisit by Busicom's executive a
couple of months later. Although it was genuinely a first trial for Busicom on hearing Mr.
Hoff's news Busicom agreed to his ideas. An agreement was reached to develop the products
jointly. At the same time Busicom sent Mr. Masatoshi Shima ( he is now Vice
President of V.M.Technology ) to the Intel Company. This genuinely first agreement was the
birth of the world's first CPU (MPU 4004, Micro Processor Unit).
In fact Intel company made a mistake at the time of the birth of the CPU. Busicom valued
Mr. Hoff's invention as being a revolutionary one but thought it was a semiconductor
device exclusively for an electronic calculator. It was never thought to be for a personal
computer.. therefore, at the end of 1969, in exchange of the exclusive sales rights of the
4004 to Busicom, Busicom agreed to share developmental expenses even though the product
was a CPU Intel company became a sub-contractor producing it for Busicom.
Two years later from the start of supply of the product, which was in 1971, this problem
was solved. After Busicom became involved in the price cutting wars of the calculator
manufacturing and marketing business they got into financial difficulties and asked Intel
for price reductions. Mr. Hoff had a strong belief that the product (4004) was not just
for electronic calculators but had wider applications, he insisted that the aforementioned
exclusive sales right should be withdrawn from Busicom. By Busicom requests for a price
reduction the contents of the agreement were modified and Intel recovered their sales
right for the 4004.