Monday, Mar. 31, 2003

The Computer on a Chip

Nov. 15, 1971

Back when I was in charge of Intel's manufacturing and engineering, we were in the throes of introducing a new product: a set of microchips, which we used in combinations to build everything from calculators to postage meters. They were electronic Lego blocks of sorts. Beyond that, they were chips like any others we were building in those days — if anything, simpler than the complex memory chips that occupied our attention. So it was with amazement that we manufacturing types greeted the trade-paper ad that appeared on Nov. 15: "Announcing a New Era of Integrated Electronics," it trumpeted. Frankly, I was horrified; what was this new era? What was so special? Looking back, the marketing folks were on to something. Digital electronics was growing rapidly. Customers began demanding improvements leading to more and more complex versions of the building blocks. We called them microprocessors, and they became the soul of the personal computer.

Grove is the chairman of the board of Intel