Gadgets Technology

History of the Microprocessor and the Personal Computer

Written by Sean Holmes

We already know that lead up to Intel’s 4004 is the first commercial microprocessor. Early personal computing used to require all the enthusiasts to have some extra-ordinary and personalized skills in both electrical component assemblies predominantly which is the ability to solder and machine coding since software at this time was a modified affair where it was available at all.

Those commercial market leaders who are already well established did not take personal computing seriously and the reason why they did not do it is because of some limited input and output functionality and software and moving on to a famine of standardization, high user skill requirement, and few envisaged applications. Intel’s own personal engineers had lobbied for the company to pursue a personal computing strategy almost as soon as the 8080 had started being implemented in a much wider range of products than originally foreseen. Steve Wozniak would plead with his employer, Hewlett-Packard, to do the same thing.


While hobbyists had firstly initiated the personal computing phenomenon and the current situation is largely an extension of the extraction that began with the contribution made together by Michael Faraday, Julius Lilienfeld, Boris Davydov, Russell Ohl, and Karl Lark-Horovitz, to William Shockley, Walter Brattain, John Bardeen, Robert Gibney, and Gerald Pearson. They were the ones who co-developed the first transistor which is a conjugation of transfer resistance at Bell Telephone Labs in December 1947.


Moreover, Bell Labs would carry on to be a prime mover in transistor advances notably the Metal Oxide Semiconductor transistor or MOSFET in the year 1959 but also granted an extensive licensing in the year 1952 to other companies in order to avoid anti-trust sanctions from the U.S. Department of Justice. Thus Bell and its manufacturing parent such as Western Electric were joined together by forty other companies which included General Electric, RCA, and Texas Instruments in the semiconductor business which was rapidly expanding. Shockley would leave Bell Labs and start Shockley Semi-Conductor in 1956.


A tremendous engineer, Shockley’s sarcastic personality allied with his poor management of employees doomed the undertaking in short order. Within a year of assembling his research team he had alienated enough members to cause the mass exodus of “The Traitorous Eight”, which included Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, two of Intel’s future founders, Jean Hoerni, inventor of the planar manufacturing process for transistors, and Jay Last. Members of The Eight would provide the nucleus of the new Fairchild Semiconductor division of Fairchild Camera and Instrument, a company that became the model for the Silicon Valley start-up.


Widely, News has spread like the management team of the Fair child company would move forward to increasingly marginalize the new division. The reason would be as the focus on profit from high profile transistor is contracting such as those used in the IBM-built flight systems of the North American XB-70 Valkyrie strategic bomber, the Autonetics flight computer of the Minuteman ICBM system, CDC 6600 supercomputer, and NASA’s Apollo Guidance Computer.

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Sean Holmes

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