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From 4004 to Sandy Bridge: Microprocessor Turns 40, Thanks to Intel
This week marks the 40th anniversary of the microprocessor, which completely revolutionized computer technology and, in turn, our lives.  It all started with an Intel chip by the name of 4004.  Here's a look at Intel's milestones over the years.

Intel Co-Founders Moore and Noyce

Intel

Intel 4004 Microprocessor

1971

Intel puts out its first microprocessor, the 4004.  That same year the company launches an IPO at $23.50 per share, raising $6.8 million.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel 8080 Microprocessor

1974

Intel's 8080 processor is released, featuring 4,500 transistors, and considered by many to be the first general-purpose microprocessor.  The chip is used in hundreds of electronics products, including traffic lights.  The following year it would be used in one of the first personal computers, the Altair 8080.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel 8086 Processor

1978

Intel launches the 8086 microprocessor, which will become an industry standard.  That same year Intel hit 10,000 employees.

1981

IBM chooses Intel's 8088 processor for its IBM PC.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel 80286

1982

The 16-bit 80286 (Intel 286) microprocessor hits the markets, featuring 134,000 transistors, initially released at 6 or 8 MHz.  The chip is used in several personal computers.  The following year Intel passed $1 billion in annual revenue.

1985

The Intel386 processor is released.  This chip was 32-bit and featured 275,000 transistors.  It had the ability to run multiple software programs at the same time.  Hello, multitasking… and just in time for Microsoft's Windows 1.0 to take advantage of it.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel Founder Bob Noyce

1990

Founder Bob Noyce passes away suddenly from a heart attack.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel i486 processor

1992

One year after becoming a household name, slapping its signature Intel Inside logo outside computer cases and in ads, the company releases the 82420 chipset for the Intel486 processor.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel Pentium II Processor

1993

You'll recognize this name: Intel's Pentium processor arrives, with five times the power of the Intel i486 chip and an initial speed of 60 or 66 MHz.  By 1994, 85% of desktop computers were powered by Intel chips.

1997

Remember those weird commercials with the Intel "BunnyPeople" dancing around in their colored anti-static suits?  1997 marks the year the Intel Pentium II processor was released, featuring MMX technology and 7.5 million transistors (compare to 134,000 transistors in the Intel 286).  A year later, Intel would launch its first value-PC market chip: the Celeron.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel Inside Old Logo

1999

The Dow Jones Industrial Average adds Intel to its ranks.  Intel also launches the Pentium III and Pentium III Xeon processors that year.  The Pentium III would be Intel's first chip to break the 1GHz barrier.  These chips were quickly followed up by the 42-million transistor Pentium 4 processor in 2000, with an initial speed of 1.5 GHz.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Pentium M 13 Micron Tech

2002

The company puts out its first chip using a new 0.13-micron technology on 12-inch wafers.  This was used for its Centrino processor technology in 2003, which helped lead to thinner laptops with integrated Wi-Fi and longer battery life.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel Core 2 Duo Processor

2006

Intel launches the world's first quad-core processor for desktops and servers.  That's essentially four microprocessors in one.  That same year the company launched the Intel Core 2 Duo processor.  In 2007, Intel transitioned to a 45nm process technology allowing more than two million transistors to fit inside the period at the end of a sentence.  Think that's a lot?  The fabrication facility for the technology in Arizona is so big it can fit 17 football fields inside it.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge Processor

2009, today, and beyond

Intel put out the Intel Atom processor in 2009, with power use low enough to be used in ultraportable netbooks (we all know what happened to that craze, though).  

Today, Intel's main consumer processors, the Core i3, i5, and i7, feature multiple cores (as many as six) with power-saving technology that boosts their clock speeds only when the computer actually needs it.  These chips are fabricated using a 32nm process, still following Moore's Law.

What's next for Intel?  The company has an upcoming technology known as Ivy Bridge that will shrink the manufacturing process to an incredibly-small 22nm, which will supposedly bring a 20% increase in performance.

(Caption, photo credit: Intel)

Intel

From 4004 to Sandy Bridge: Microprocessor Turns 40, Thanks to Intel

This week marks the 40th anniversary of the microprocessor, which completely revolutionized computer technology and, in turn, our lives.  It all started with an Intel chip by the name of 4004.  Here's a look at Intel's milestones over the years.

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