Intel 8008

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{system, computer, user}
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The Intel 8008 was an early byte-oriented microprocessor designed and manufactured by Intel and introduced in April 1972. It was an 8-bit CPU with an external 14-bit address bus that could address 16KB of memory. Originally known as the 1201, the chip was commissioned by Computer Terminal Corporation (CTC) to implement an instruction set of their design for their Datapoint 2200 programmable terminal. As the chip was delayed and did not meet CTC's performance goals, the 2200 ended up using CTC's own TTL based CPU instead. An agreement permitted Intel to market the chip to other customers after Seiko expressed an interest in using it for a calculator.

Contents

History

CTC formed in San Antonio in 1968 under the direction of Austin O. "Gus" Roche and Phil Ray, both NASA engineers. Roche, in particular, was primarily interested in producing a desktop computer. However, given the immaturity of the market, the company's business plan mentioned only a ASR-33 Teletype replacement, which shipped as the Datapoint 3300. The case, designed by John "Jack" Frassanito, was deliberately designed to fit in the same space as an IBM Selectric typewriter, and used a video screen shaped to be the same aspect ratio as an IBM punched card.[2] Although commercially successful, the 3300 had ongoing heat problems due to the amount of circuitry packed into such a small space.

In order to address the heating and other issues, a re-design started that featured the CPU part of the internal circuitry re-implemented on a single chip. Looking for a company able to produce their chip design, Roche turned to Intel, then primarily a vendor of memory chips.[2] Roche met with Bob Noyce, who expressed concern with the concept; Frassanito recalls that "Noyce said it was an intriguing idea, and that Intel could do it, but it would be a dumb move. He said that if you have a computer chip, you can only sell one chip per computer, while with memory, you can sell hundreds of chips per computer."[2] Another major concern was that Intel's existing customer base purchased their memory chips for use with their own processor designs; if Intel introduced their own processor, they might be seen as a competitor, and their customers might look elsewhere for memory. Nevertheless, Noyce agreed to a $50,000 development contract in early 1970. Texas Instruments (TI) was also brought in as a second supplier.

TI was able to quickly make samples of the 1201 based on Intel drawings, but these proved to be buggy and were rejected. Intel's own versions were delayed. CTC decided to re-implement the new version of the terminal using discrete TTL instead of a single CPU. The new system was released as the Datapoint 2200 in the spring 1970, with their first sale to General Mills on May 25, 1970.[2] CTC paused development of the 1201 after the 2200 was released, as it was no longer needed. Six months later, Seiko approached Intel expressing an interest in using the 1201 in a scientific calculator, likely after seeing the success of the simpler Intel 4004 used by Busicom in their business calculators. A small re-design followed, expanding from a 16-pin to 18-pin design, and the new 1210 was delivered to CTC in late 1971.[2]

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