Comments on the First Microprocessor from Ray Holt

I am, Ray Holt, the designer of the F14 MP944 microprocessor. Let me state some facts that have become distorted by Intel marketing and some misinformed history buffs. The Intel 4004 was NOT a single chip microprocessor. In fact, it was a CPU (central processing unit) or maybe just an ALU (arithmetic logic unit). It would not run on its own or even with the support RAM, ROM, I/O, etc, it also took 59 TTL chips to make it run. It is FAR from a single-chip microprocessor. Anyone that says it is just does not know what they are saying and are just echoing Intel wishes. It is, like the F14 MP944, a chip set that depends on all the other chips. One similarity between the two is that they used the SAME technology, P-Channel MOS, which was readily available to everyone and not a military secret, and the MP944 microprocessor used the technology two years before the 4004.

The definition of a “microprocessor” up until around 1974 was a “A CPU uses P-channel MOS and is contained in 1, 2, 3 or 4 LSI standard dual-in-line packages from 16 – 42 pins per package” 1973 Hank Smith, Intel Microprocessor Marketing Manager. The SINGLE chip idea came from Intel when they saw they had some competition from other chip designs. It’s all marketing.

The huge differences between the Intel 4004 and the MP944 microprocessor are the following:

1. MP944 microprocessor is 20-bit with its arithmetic units operating in parallel… like co-processors.

2. It operates at MIL-SPEC temp and not just sits on a desktop. HUGE difference in logic and chip design.

3. It performs self-testing of all the chips in flight and when a failure is detected a 2nd MP944 microprocessor is switched on.

4. The # of ROMs in the MP944 is a function of the program and not what it took to make the chips work. They would have worked with one ROM. The minimum configuration was one of each chip.

5. With the chip technology being exactly the same between the two then the only difference is the expertise between the logic and chip designers of the two companies.

6. The only big affect the military had on the projects was an endless supply of funds, however, it was possible to do and we did it in two years AND IT WORKED THE VERY FIRST TIME OFF THE PRODUCTION LINE.

7. I was told by an F14 maintenance tech in 2015 that the original MP944 microprocessor was used in every F14 made and not one crash was related to the MP944.

Intel use to brag on its website that the 4004 was the first microprocessor until I notified them of the MP944 microprocessor and then they changed it to the first commercial microprocessor. Again, marketing.

In 1974 Intel hired myself and my business partner, Manny Lemas, to travel the USA teaching engineers how to program the 4004, 8008, and 8080 BECAUSE they could not sell the things because engineers were logic designers and not programmers. In fact, Noyce gave an ultimatum to the microprocessor marketing group to find a way to sell them or drop them. After our two years of teaching programming sales increased, mainly for their largest customer, National Cash Register (NCR), with 1000 engineers on staff.

This and much more is available in my recent book on the MP944 microprocessor history and can be obtained at I welcome any comments using my Contact form. The topic is getting rather old and the stories are getting wild and fuzzy with original designers passing on. So far, I think I have a very clear head on what really happened. I had to keep it all a secret for 30 years so lots of time to think and relate to the technology explosion.

For those historians that like claims I respectively submit the following claims on the F14 MP944 microprocessor:

1st microprocessor chip set
1st aerospace microprocessor
1st fly-by-wire flight computer
1st military microprocessor
1st production microprocessor
1st fully integrated chip set microprocessor
1st 20-bit microprocessor
1st microprocessor with built-in programmed
self-test and redundancy
1st microprocessor in a digital signal (DSP) application
1st with execution pipeline
1st with parallel processing
1st integrated math co-processors
1st Read-Only Memory (ROM) with a built-in counter

Ray Holt
MP944 Logic Designer