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Early integrated circuit (IC), 1970
Credit: RCA Corporation

ICs, Microprocessors & Memories

This section showcases the Integrated Circuit (IC) and in particular a special type of IC that is the heart of a small computer: the Central Processing Unit (CPU). Robert Noyce of Fairchild Semiconductor and Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments independently developed the IC in 1958. Creating many interconnected transistors on a single thin wafer of silicon dramatically reduced the size, power requirements, and cost of computers. The first ICs had only a few transistors, but today’s ICs can contain over 100 million transistors and operate at billions of cycles per second. ICs used for memory made core memory obsolete. The microprocessor is a special kind of integrated circuit that performs the data processing within a computer. The first microprocessor was the 1971 Intel ”4004” and was designed for a Japanese calculator company. Shown here are a variety of microprocessors.

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