Busicom - Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation, Ltd - The Microprocessor's History As Seen From Busicom's Side

The Microprocessor's History As Seen From Busicom's Side

In order to limit production cost, Busicom wanted to design a calculator engine that would be based on a few integrated circuits (ICs), containing some ROMs and shift registers and that could be adapted to a broad range of calculators by just changing the ROM IC chips. Busicom's engineers came up with a design that required 12 ICs and asked Intel, a company founded one year earlier in 1968 for the purpose of making solid state random-access memory (RAM), to finalize and manufacture their calculator engine.

Ted Hoff was assigned to the project and after studying the design came up with a much more elegant, 4 ICs implementation centered on what was to become the 4004 microprocessor surrounded by a mixture of 3 different ICs containing ROM, shift registers, input/output ports and some RAM—Intel's first product (1969) was the 3101 Schottky TTL bipolar 64-bit SRAM.

Busicom's management agreed to Hoff's new design and the chips were delivered in late 1970. In mid 1971 Busicom, which had exclusive right to the design and its components, asked Intel to lower their prices. Intel renegotiated their contract and Busicom gave up its exclusive rights to the chips.

A few months later, on November 15, 1971, Intel announced the immediate availability of the first microprocessor chipset family, the MCS-4 micro computer set (all from the Busicom design) with an advertisement in Electronic News.

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