Quirky chips

January 29, 2012

Jack Ganssle-January 29, 2012

In my four previous columns, I outlined the history of the microprocessor. Two of the important developments were the Williams tube and the Whirlwind computer. Although the Whirlwind originally did use Williams tubes, it became the first machine with core memory. After those articles appeared, I visited London's Science Museum and took pictures of a Williams tube and a Whirlwind core plane (shown right). Alas, my camera skills are very poor, but the crude memory densities are startling: each of those cores, spaced about a quarter of an inch apart, stored a single bit.

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

Happy Birthday, 4004
Jack Ganssle's series in honor of the 40th anniversary of the 4004 microprocessor.

Part 1: The microprocessor at 40--The birth of electronics
The 4004 spawned the age of ubiquitous and cheap computing.

Part 2: From light bulbs to computers 
From Patent 307,031 to a computer laden with 100,000 vacuum tubes, these milestones in first 70 years of electronics made the MCU possible.

Part 3: The semiconductor revolution
In part 3 of Jack's series honoring the 40th anniversary of the microprocessor, the minis create a new niche—the embedded system.

Part 4: Microprocessors change the world
In part 4 of Jack's series honoring the 40th anniversary of the microprocessor, now embedded systems are everywhere.

Let's conclude this series by looking a few of the quirky microprocessors that came to life in the last forty years.

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