Marcian E. (Ted) Hoff
Born Oct 28 1937
Memory System for a Multi-Chip Digital Computer
Patent Number(s) 3,821,715
In the late 1960s, many articles had discussed the possibility of a computer on a chip. However, all concluded that the integrated circuit technology was not yet ready. Ted Hoff was the first to recognize that Intel's new silicon-gated MOS technology might make a single-chip CPU possible if a sufficiently simple architecture could be developed. Hoff developed such an architecture with just over 2000 transistors.
In 1969, the Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom asked Intel to complete the design and manufacture of a new set of chips. Ted Hoff was assigned to work with Busicom's engineers. Hoff realized that the Busicom's 12-chip design -- separate chips for keyboard scanning, display control, printer control, and other functions -- could not meet the cost objectives for the project. He proposed an alternate architecture in which a single-chip general-purpose computer central processor (CPU) would be programmed to perform most of the calculator functions. Busicom accepted the Intel proposal.
Further refinements in architecture and logic design were made by Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin and the chip was brought to silicon reality by Faggin. The first working CPU was delivered to Busicom in February, 1971. This single chip had as much computing power as the first electronic computer, ENIAC (1946), which filled a room.
Although there was an initial reluctance on the part of Intel marketing to undertake the support and sale of these products to general customers, Hoff, Mazor, and Faggin actively campaigned for their announcement to the industry and helped define a support strategy that the company could accept. Intel formally announced the "4004" CPU in November, 1971.
The 4004 was designed and built under contract for Busicom -- they owned the rights to it. Intel acquired the rights by offering to return the $60,000 development cost and to produce the chip at a lower cost. As the basis for the modern computer revolution, maintaining rights on the 4004 technology appears to have been a good investment.
Hoff, Mazor, and Faggin were involved in Intel's second and third generation CPUs, the 8008 and 8080.
One of the most important developments of the last half of the 20th century has been the microprocessor. It is found in virtually every automobile, medical device, and computer in the modern world. From its inception in 1969, the microprocessor industry has grown to hundreds of millions of units per year.
Dr. Marcian Edward "Ted" Hoff, Jr. was born October 28, 1937 in Rochester, New York. He received a BEE (1958) from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. During the summers away from college he worked for General Railway Signal Company in Rochester where he made developments that produced his first two patents. He attended Stanford as a National Science Foundation Fellow and received a MS (1959) and Ph.D. (1962) in electrical engineering. He joined Intel in 1962. In 1980, he was named the first Intel Fellow, the highest technical position in the company. He spent a brief time as VP for Technology with Atari in the early 1980s and is currently VP and Chief Technical Officer with Teklicon, Inc. Other honors include the Stuart Ballantine Medal from the Franklin Institute.