Chip-ing in! Indian Contributions to the Chip – A ‘Sangam’ of Talent

Anand Parthasarathy


In its 15 November 1971 issue, an American trade journal, Electronic News, carried a large display advertisement with the banner: “Announcing a new era of integrated electronics…. A micro-programmable computer on a chip!” It came from a recent entrant into the electronics arena, just three years old, named Intel.

The company had recently taken up a job for a Japanese company, the Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation, to develop a set of chips to fuel its new Busicom desk calculator, with a printer. Intel engineers Ted Hoff, Frederico Faggin and Stan Mazor worked with the client’s representative,  Masatoshi Shima to shrink the originally planned 12 chips into 4 – a central processing unit (CPU), a read-only memory, a random access memory and a register for in-out operations —together called, MCS-4 for microcomputer system.

Having delivered the chips to Busicom, Intel offered their Japanese client a deal: “We’ll give you a discount on the price of the chips, if we can keep the rights to the design and sell them in markets where we don’t compete with you.” The client agreed – and Intel separated the CPU chip and offered it to the world as the Intel 4004, the world’s first microprocessor, commonly called the microchip. It contained 2,300 transistors and worked at 740 kHz…read more on NOPR