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During the summer, while the living is easy and the fish are jumping, each Friday I'll take a look at computer museum or some artifacts there. Starting this week with the one in Cadence San Jose's backyard just along Montague Expressway: The Intel Museum.
One artifact is Gordon Moore's original single-page business plan that he typed himself on a manual typewriter (complete with spelling errors; as Moore joked to Arthur Rock, who funded Intel, "I need to fire my typist").
This is a great example of what VCs always say, that the things that matter are the market (semiconductors) and the team (Moore and Noyce, and soon after Grove, too). Last of all is the product itself, which will probably be discarded in what is currently called pivoting. If you want a great book on this, I recommend Getting to Plan B. If you read the Intel business plan, there isn't really much focus on product.
If you are not old enough, you probably don't know that Intel used to be a memory company. Sure, it has some memory product lines today, too, but it is primarily a microprocessor company. The first chip that is generally regarded as a programmable microprocessor was Intel's 4004. In 1969, a Japanese company called Busicom asked Intel to design a 12-chip solution for a printing calculator. Intel came up with a four-chip solution: the processor, RAM, ROM, and an I/O chip. The museum has one of the calculators that contained this first microprocessor, its circuit board, and a die plot. Blue is metal, there was only one; red is poly, forming the gates; green is diffusion, there was also only one since this board pre-dates CMOS. The architecture of the 4004 is usually credited to Ted Hoff, and the design itself to Federico Faggin.
The first "home" computer than anyone could buy and program themselves was the Altair. This contained the next-generation microprocessor, the Intel 8080. The reason that you could program this in something other than assembly language was that two guys called Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote a Basic interpreter for it. They actually developed it on what today we call a virtual platform, an Intel 8080 simulator running on a DEC PDP-10. At the time, Microsoft was based in Albuquerque, NM, before it moved to the Redmond (outside Seattle). The Basic interpreter became so standard that when IBM (you might have heard of them, too) created a personal computer, it was one of the first products they licensed. They also, famously or infamously, licensed an operating system and, since they didn't think that it had any value, allowed Microsoft to keep the rights to license the operating system to other companies.
All these artifacts and many more are in the museum. There is also a whole section on how semiconductors are manufactured, which I assume most readers of Breakfast Bytes are familiar with. You might not have seen a full 12" ingot from which the silicon wafer blanks are manufactured, though. And if you want a photograph of yourself in a bunny-suit, then go for it.
If you want to visit the Intel Museum, it has its own entrance into the RNB, the Robert Noyce Building. There is a visitor car park that you can use. For your navigation needs, the street address is 2200 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara CA 95054. It is normally open Monday to Saturday. Details on the museum page on the Intel website.
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