History of Technology: Intel 8080
In December 1947, thanks to Bell Labs, the electronics world saw the birth of the transistor, a component that would become the cornerstone of much more complex devices such as microprocessors. In this review of the History of Technology we have been doing, we’ve spent a few minutes talking about some mythical processors like the Motorola 68000 , the Intel 4004 (the first processor of the story) or Zilog Z80 which became part of the Spectrum or the Nintendo Game Boy. Following this tour of the world of processors, today we will take a moment to visit another processor that had a great impact in the technology sector since it was instrumental in some of the first personal computers hit the market: the Intel 8080 .
The story of the first processor is closely linked to a name, an engineer who came from Fairchild Semiconductor in 1970 and would spend the ranks of Intel: Federico Faggin . Faggin, who led the project of the Intel 4004 was established in 1971 and solo in 1974 to found Zilog Inc. , Intel would develop before leaving another of the great successes of the company, the Intel 8080. Although hit the market in 1974, the project of Intel 8080 is something older because, beginning in 1972, the Intel engineer began to conceive and design the architecture of 8080 on an idea that attempted to validate the address of the company to boot, formally the project.
It was not until the second half of 1972 when Faggin got the green light by Intel to tackle the project. The Intel 8080 was an 8-bit processor running with a clock frequency of 2 MHz, had an address bus of 16 bits and therefore could handle up to 64 KB of memory. To perform the detailed design of dispostivo, Faggin ficharÃa to the Japanese Masatoshi Shima who would be responsible for work following the methodology and standards Faggin was defined during the development of the Intel 4004 and later models, known as Random Logic Design .
The Intel 8080, doors made of nMOS transistors with about 6,000, would materialize in a 40-pin package, a format until its release had not been used with other processors and also hit the market in mid-1974 together multiple peripherals and extensions: a communication controller (Intel 8251), a programmable timer ( Intel 8253 ), a programmable interface for controlling peripherals ( Intel 8255 ) or a programmable interrupt controller ( Intel 8259 ). Moreover, from the point of view of programming, this processor continued the path opened by the Intel 8008 and used the same set of instructions, therefore programs written for the Intel 8008 were compatible with the Intel 8080 plus added some features extras (like driving operations and instructions of 16 bits).
This processor would generate a patent registered to Faggin and Shima and while Intel was the largest producer of the device, other manufacturers (such as AMD, Mitsubishi, NatSemi, NEC, Siemens, and Texas Instruments) also would manufacture, under license, their own versions of Intel 8080 and even after the “iron curtain” in the Soviet Union and the GDR (East Germany) also be manufactured clones of this Microprocessor (skipping any patent).
The impact on industry of this device was very large and served as the basis for computer mythical as the Altair 8800 MITS or IMSAI 8080 , both of which were based on the operating system CP/M , computers like the HP 2647 that used BASIC or even in the games industry with Gun Fight , the first arcade game to use a microprocessor (until then were designed with discrete logic). In fact, this processor led the competition will launch devices such as the Motorola 68000 or Faggin himself desarrollase the Z80 in his company (he did support the instruction set of 8080); addition, Intel developed the series started with 8080 with the Intel 8085 , the 8086 and the famous 8088 would be the basis of the legendary IBM/PC .