1971: Intel 4004 - The First Microprocessor on the Market
The Intel 4004 was originally designed for use in a Busicom scientific calculator, but Intel engineers realized the design of the chip afforded multi-purpose use - thus the microprocessor was born. The 4004 contains 2000 transistors and is a 4-bit microprocessor capable of processing 4 bits of information at a time at a rate of about 0.06 MHz. Compare this to current microprocessors that contain many millions of transistors and whose clock speed is measured in GHz. But the 4004 found widespread use in many applications, including being used on the Pioneer 10 spacecraft launched in 1972. For many years Pioneer 10 held the record as the most distant man-made object, until it was surpassed by Voyager 1 in 1998. Pioneer 10 continues to transmit useful data back to Earth to the present day.