The 8-bit Generation
Intel’s 4004 processed one 4-bit “nibble” at a time. But broader use required microprocessors able to manipulate at least 8-bit “bytes.” When the Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) ordered a custom-designed chip, Intel began developing an 8-bit solution: the 8008.
In the end, CTC didn’t use the 8008. But Intel, recognizing the value of a general-purpose chip, marketed it in 1972.
Customer response to the 8008 inspired Intel’s more powerful 8080 and Motorola’s 6800 in 1974. Both succeeded as replacements for lower-complexity logic chips, and as the heart of new personal computers.
Electronics magazines helped spread information about the second generation of microprocessors to hobbyists.View Artifact Detail
Boasting up to 10 times the performance of its predecessor, the 8080 was Intel’s first widely used microprocessor.View Artifact Detail
Competition among new microprocessor vendors brought lower prices and enhanced features.
The USSR cloned Intel’s 8080. Zilog’s Z80 improved on it. MOS Technology’s 6502, at just $25, powered Apple, Commodore, and Atari home computers. TI pioneered under $2 single-chip microprocessors (called microcontrollers). Its TMS-1000 was widely used in toys and appliances.
This poster created by the Computer History Museum highlights the competitive microprocessor and microcontroller marketplace from 1971 to 1996.View Artifact Detail
A Speaking Micocontroller
As sophisticated chip technology became cheaper, using computers became child’s play.
TI’s 1978 Speak & Spell used the TMS-1000 microcontroller plus some custom chips to duplicate a human voice. A mathematical model of the human vocal tract transformed digital information into synthetic speech. The toy stored more than 100 seconds of spoken words.
Gary Boone and Michael Cochran designed the TMS1000 microcontroller, the brains of the Speak & Spell.View Artifact Detail