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The Smart IC: Microprocessors

Four-Phase Systems AL-1 processor chip

Design for this AL-1 eight-bit computer processor slice, expandable to 32-bits, began in October 1968. Final working devices were delivered March 1969.

The Smart IC: Microprocessors

The CPU (“Central Processing Unit”) is the heart of a computer -- the part that decodes and executes instructions. As integrated circuits grew more complex, with more computer logic squeezed onto each device, it became clear that eventually an entire CPU would fit on a single chip, called a “microprocessor.”

But the first step was putting the CPU onto just a few chips.

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Court Room Demonstration System

MOS VLSI pioneer Lee Boysel designed this for a 1995 legal case to demonstrate that the AL-1 processor chip, built in 1969, had some of the characteristics later claimed in several microprocessor patents.

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U. S. Navy’s Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighter

Steve Geller and Ray Holt designed a 20-bit, pipelined, parallel processor chip set for the Tomcat fighter while working for Garrett AiResearch Corp in 1970 under contract from Grumman Aircraft. American Microsystems of Santa Clara, California manufactured the MOS-LSI chips.

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Related Content
Learn more about early approaches to microprocessors

Microprocessor integrates CPU function onto a single chip

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