Milestone-Proposal:Intel 4004 Microprocessor

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Docket #:2020-04

This is a draft proposal, that has not yet been submitted. To submit this proposal, click on "Actions" in the toolbar above, then "Edit with form". At the bottom of the form, check the box that says "Submit this proposal to the IEEE History Committee for review. Only check this when the proposal is finished" and save the page.

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Intel 4004 Microprocessor, 1971

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

Santa Clara Valley

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: Santa Clara Valley
Senior Officer Name: Taylor Winship

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: Santa Clara Valley
Senior Officer Name: Taylor Winship

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: Santa Clara Valley
IEEE Section Chair name: Tayor Winship

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: David Laws
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Brian Berg
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

Intel Museum, 2200 Mission College Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054 37.3882663, -121.9637798

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. Intel Museum in the lobby of the Robert Noyce, corporate HQ building

Are the original buildings extant?

The product was developed at the 3095 Bowers Avenue, Santa Clara building (SC1) . The building is extant but is not accessible to the public. The museum is less than 2 miles away.

Details of the plaque mounting:

In the ground floor entrance hall

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The museum is open to the public during normal business hours. There is no charge for entry.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

Intel Corporation

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

The Intel 4004 was a complete 4-bit parallel central processing unit (CPU) on a single silicon chip. Introduced in 1971, it was the first commercial microprocessor integrated circuit offered to the general public. A member of the MCS 4 Micro Computer Chip Set , the device established the commercial viability of the microprocessor concept and led to the development of 8-bit chips from Intel and other vendors that enabled the personal computer revolution.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

The key technical obstacle was refining Intel's silicon-gate MOS process to accommodate 2,300 transistors in a chip size that was practical to manufacture in volume. This required significant innovation in process technology (buried contact and bootstrap load), circuit design (a static MOS shift register, counter, etc.), and mask layout techniques. Commercial obstacles included initial reluctance by management to promote a chip that could compete with important customers and lack of knowledge on the part of users on how to use the device. The latter was overcome with hardware and software development tools and extensive customer education programs.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).