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Happy Birthday to the single-chip

Crack open the bubbly and light the candles.

The Intel 4004 Microprocessor debuted thirty four years ago on Wednesday. The chip sparked a technological revolution because it was the first product to fuse the essential elements of a programmable computer into a single chip.

Initially, team-Intel designed the processor to be a calculator component for a Japanese manufacturer, which initially owned all rights to the chip.

Intel 4004 processor
Credit: Intel
Intel 4004 processor

In addition to being functional, the gold and white chip was also one of the first processors to have a futuristic millipede look to it.

The chip is the brainchild of three engineers: Ted Hoff, Stan Mazor and Federico Faggin. At its release, the 4004 processed 4 bits of data, ran at 108 kilohertz (a tenth of 1 megahertz) and could perform mathematical calculations. Plus, it cost less than $100.

CNET's Michael Kanellos brilliantly relates the rest of the back story, which you can read about here.