I will use this blog space to publish excerpts from my book, “The Accidental Engineer”, and to add relevant, useful, interesting, and truthful information adding to what most computer historians have missed or ignored.
Intel is a powerful marketing machine and thus has influenced the microprocessor history by changing definitions of microprocessor hardware. They have gone from “World’s First Microprocessor” to “First Commercial Microprocessor” to “Intel’s First Microprocessor” all aligned to side step the real microprocessor history that they were NOT first and are afraid and humiliated to admit it.
Unfortunately, computer historians have followed this untruthful false history. I know for sure that the Intel 4000 series was NOT the first microprocessor and that the 4004 was NOT a single chip microprocessor. Not even close. I was there, I worked with the Intel microprocessor group, and I programmed the 4004 in many applications. It took other support chips and 59 TTL circuits to make it work. Those are simple facts but computer historians are afraid to say it. The amazing fact from all of this is that Garrett AiResearch was able with its MP944 chips, using the exact P-channel technology, as the 4004 to produce a 20-bit microprocessor chip set, NOT 4-bits, TWO years before Intel AND operating at mil-spec temperature range. At a minimum that makes the MP944 10 times the computer than the 4004.
This is a feat that was herald as “impossible”. However, it was done. The chips worked the first time out of production and flew in the F-14 for almost 35 years without any in-flight failures. Can you imagine such a design feat, in less than two years, with new unproven technology, with complex logic design, innovative chip layout techniques, and marvelous packaging ideas … and it worked.
Yes, the MP944 was kept secret for 30 years but that does not take away from what is was and what it did. Even today (2020), almost 20+ years after its revealing computer historians have excused the MP944 as “unknown” and that is why it should not be recognized as to what it really was, even though this website has published the details since 1998. Even the 4004 designers had the gall to say the “chips wouldn’t have changed history, even if anyone had known about them“. They DID change history, even at Intel.
History has proven that most of the engineers that worked on the project contributed heavily to the success of the future of this industry. What I really find humorous is that some computer historians compare computer architectural differences as an excuse for why the MP944 is not a microprocessor. That’s like saying the Jeep is not a car because it is not like the Model T. Does anyone really know that Ford was NOT the first car?
What will follow in this First Microprocessor Blog is my story and the story of others related to the First Microprocessor chips, from design to production to success in the F-14 and finally to my own contributions to the industry in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Some of this and even more I have publised as “Comments on the First Microprocessor from Ray Holt.”