Intel celebrates 50th anniversary of its first CPU

Intel officially unveiled the Intel 4004 microprocessor in 1971

Monday, November 15th marks the 50th anniversary of Intel’s first central processing unit (CPU), the Intel 4004.

Officially unveiled in November 1971, the 4004 microprocessor was a slow beginning for the company, but it helped pave the way for computers as we know them today. Processors are ingrained in most aspects of daily life now — laptops, smartphones, game consoles, cars and more rely on these little chips (so much so that the supply of all these things is extremely limited as the world grapples with an ongoing chip shortage).

Image credit: Intel

One of the things I found most interesting about the 4004 is how the numbers stack up to today. The Intel 4004 sported 2,300 transistors compared to the billions you’d find on a current-gen Intel Core processor.

Similarly, the Intel 4004 boasted a circuit line width of 10 microns (about 10,000 nanometers). Intel says its current chips have circuit lines ranging between 45 and 32 nanometers.

Those interested in learning more about the history of the Intel 4004 can check out this page on Intel’s website.