July 18 - Birth of Intel!

Posted on July 18, 2020

On this date in 1968, a region in California got a big boost into becoming Silicon Valley. 

Bell Labs in New Jersey and Texas Instruments in - you guessed it - Texas made the first invention and development of transistors, including silicon transistors, but a dean of the University of Stanford's engineering school, a man named Frederick Terman, created a tradition of Stanford professors starting their own companies. Silicon transistors and later silicon chips began to be associated with the area near Stanford as professor after professor (and student after former student) opened electronics companies near the university.

And now the area south of San Francisco, which includes Stanford's Palo Alto and Intel's Santa Clara, is called Silicon Valley. Around 2,000 tech companies are located there!

Intel's name is a portmanteau (a word made of parts of two or more words) of the terms INTegrated circuit (microchip) and ELectronics. The fact that "intel" is short for intelligence information - as in "Did you get the intel?" - was the bonus to the name the two co-founders came up with. 

Intel created the world's first commercially available microprocessor in 1971. That's what made it possible for a small machine to do what, in the past, only huge computers could do. 

I remember buying my first computer - an Apple II (Apple Computers had also sprung up in Silicon Valley!) - in 1979, and my friends were astonished that little old me would have a computer in my home. Some people asked me, "But don't computers cost tens of thousands of dollars and take up an entire room?"

"Not any more," I was able to answer.

But the extraordinary development of technology continued at a break-neck pace, and the 2-foot-by-1-foot Apple II (which didn't include a screen or disc drive) had only 64 Kilobytes, whereas an Apple watch now allows us to have 8 Gigabytes of memory on our wrist!  And each Gigabyte is the equivalent of 1 million KB, so that is very close to being 8 million times more memory in a teeny fraction of the space!

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