Intel: desktop processor timeline in 25 years
1971: 4004 Microprocessor
The 4004 was Intel's first microprocessor. Intel began development of the first microprocessor in 1969 as part of a project for Japanese calculator manufacturer Busicom to develop a set of chips for a family of programmable calculators. This breakthrough invention powered the Busicom calculator and paved the way for embedding intelligence in inanimate objects as well as the personal computer.
1972: 8008 Microprocessor
The 8008 was twice as powerful as the 4004. A 1974 article in Radio Electronics referred to a device called the Mark-8 which used the 8008. The Mark-8 is known as one of the first computers for the home --one that by today's standards was difficult to build, maintain and operate. The 8008 processors contain 3,500 transistors.
1974: 8080 Microprocessor
The 8080 became the brains of the first personal computer--the Altair, allegedly named for a destination of the Starship Enterprise from the Star Trek television show. Computer hobbyists could purchase a kit for the Altair for $395. Within months, it sold tens of thousands, creating the first PC back orders in history. The 8080 processors contain 6,000 transistors.
1978: 8086-8088 Microprocessor
A pivotal sale to IBM's new personal computer division made the 8088 the brains of IBM's new hit product--the IBM PC. The 8088's success propelled Intel into the ranks of the Fortune 500, and Fortune magazine named the company one of the "Business Triumphs of the Seventies." The 8086-8088 processors contain 29,000 transistors.
1982: 286 Microprocessor
The 286, also known as the 80286, was the first Intel processor that could run all the software written for its predecessor. This software compatibility remains a hallmark of Intel's family of microprocessors. Within 6 years of it release, there were an estimated 15 million 286-based personal computers installed around the world. The 286 processors contain 134,000 transistors.
1985: Intel 386 Microprocessor
The Intel 386��microprocessor featured 275,000 transistors--more than 100 times as many as the original 4004. It was a 32-bit chip and was "multi tasking," meaning it could run multiple programs at the same time. The 386 processors contain 275,000 transistors.
1989: Intel 486 DX CPU Microprocessor
The 486��processor generation really meant you go from a command-level computer into point-and-click computing. "I could have a color computer for the first time and do desktop publishing at a significant speed," recalls technology historian David K. Allison of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The Intel 486��processor was the first to offer a built-in math coprocessor, which speeds up computing because it offloads complex math functions from the central processor. The 486 processors contain 1.2 million transistors.
1993: Pentium® Processor
The Pentium® processor allowed computers to more easily incorporate "real world" data such as speech, sound, handwriting and photographic images. The name Pentium®, mentioned in the comics and on television talk shows, became a household word soon after introduction. The Pentium processors contain 3.1 million transistors.
1997: Pentium® II Processor
The 7.5 million-transistor Pentium® II processor incorporates Intel MMX��technology, which is designed specifically to process video, audio and graphics data efficiently. It was introduced in innovative Single Edge Contact (S.E.C) Cartridge that also incorporated a high-speed cache memory chip. With this chip, PC users can capture, edit and share digital photos with friends and family via the Internet; edit and add text, music or between-scene transitions to home movies; and, with a video phone, send video over standard phone lines and the Internet. The Pentium II processors contain 7.5 million transistors.
1999: Pentium® III Processor
The Pentium® III processor features 70 new instructions--Internet Streaming SIMD extensions-- that dramatically enhance the performance of advanced imaging, 3-D, streaming audio, video and speech recognition applications. It was designed to significantly enhance Internet experiences, allowing users to do such things as browse through realistic online museums and stores and download high-quality video. The processor was introduced using 0.25-micron technology. The Pentium III processors contain 9.5 million transistors.
2000: Pentium® 4 Processor
Users of Pentium® 4 processor-based PCs can create professional-quality movies; deliver TV-like video via the Internet; communicate with real-time video and voice; render 3D graphics in real time; quickly encode music for MP3 players; and simultaneously run several multimedia applications while connected to the Internet. The processor debuted with 42 million transistors and circuit lines of 0.18 microns. Intel's first microprocessor, the 4004, ran at 108 kilohertz (108,000 hertz), compared to the Pentium® 4 processor's initial speed of 1.5 gigahertz (1.5 billion hertz). If automobile speed had increased similarly over the same period, you could now drive from San Francisco to New York in about 13 seconds. Pentium 4 Processor hits 2 GHz milestone in August 2001. The Pentium 4 processors contain 42 million transistors.
2002: Pentium 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading Technology
Intel introduces its innovative Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology for the new Intel® Pentium® 4 processor at 3.06 GHz. HT Technology enables a new class of high-performance desktop PCs that can work quickly among several computing applications at the same time, or provide extra performance for individual software programs that are multithreaded. HT Technology can boost PC performance by up to 25 percent. In addition to bringing HT Technology to desktop PC users, Intel reached a PC milestone in launching the Pentium 4 processor at 3.06 GHz. This is the first commercial microprocessor to operate at 3 billion cycles-per-second and is made possible by using the industry's most advanced 0.13-micron manufacturing technology.
Intel Pentium 4 Processor with Hyper-Threading technology introduced at 3.2 GHz in 2003.
2005: Pentium D Processor
Intel® Pentium® D processor with two processing cores – or “brains” – is introduced along with the Intel® 945 Express Chipset family with support for such consumer electronics-like features as surround-sound audio, high-definition video and enhanced graphics capabilities.
2006: Intel Core 2 Duo Processor
Features Intel Core micro architecture, Core 2 Duo/Extreme is the product name of Conroe. The new processors provide as much as a 40% increase in performance and are 40 percent more energy efficient versus the best Intel® Pentium® processor (E6700 2.6GHz to Intel Pentium D 960 3.6GHz). The Core 2 Duo processors contain 291 million transistors.