The microprocessor is one of the unsung heroes of the modern era. Like the car designer whose vehicle gives the racing driver glory, the microprocessor makes quite incredible things possible all over the world. Each year we benefit from faster and more efficient performance which improves not just computing, but also numerous fields from retail and industry to agriculture and vehicle safety. Last year, the humble microprocessor celebrated its 40th birthday. Since 1971, it has become the brain of literally millions of devices – without the microprocessor, they would not have existed.
Let’s take a look at some of the devices the microprocessor has powered over the past 40 years:
1971: Busicom Calculator – The Unicom 141P calculator was one of the very first devices to feature a microprocessor. Computing as we know it started here.
1977: Commodore PET – The PET is widely acknowledged as the first all-in-one home computer.
1978: Washing machine – The first microchip-controlled washing machines came onto the market, showing the diverse usages of the new technology.
1980: Arcade Mania – Namco introduced Pac-Man in the arcades of the U.S. and sparked a huge craze.
1981: Osborne 1 Laptop – With a 5” screen, and weighing 10.7kg, it really was the “great” grandfather of modern laptops.
1986: Nintendo NES – The gaming industry was revitalized by consoles such as the Nintendo Entertainment System.
1991: Computing democratized – Business and personal computing exploded with a wide range of desktops, laptops and even early tablets.
1997: MP3 player – The way we listen to music was forever changed in the late 1990s with the first MP3 players.
1999: BlackBerry – The smartphone revolution kicked off when RIM introduced the BlackBerry 850.
2001: Apple iPod – The iPod was released, and the future of MP3 as the music format of choice is set in stone.
2002: Microsoft Windows Tablet – Almost a decade before the consumer obsession with tablets, businesses were using them for more functional tasks.
2008: Netbook – Netbooks were introduced as small and lightweight devoices for completing simple tasks and viewing media and internet content on the go.
2010: Apple iPad – Tablets hit the consumer mainstream with the launch of the iPad.
2011: Digital Signage – Digital Signage is but one of a vast number of new uses for the microprocessor. Intelligent, internet-connected devices found in everyday life – from industry and retail to agriculture and vehicles.
2011: Ultrabook – The evolution of the PC takes another big step as stylish Ultrabook devices push forward mobile, high performance computing.