Intel 50th anniversary McS-48 series

The potential for a combination of microprocessors and erasable programmable read-only memory (both introduced in 1971) began to emerge in 1974, when both products had to be purchased and installed separately. While this allows for custom applications, it is expensive and complex to use in a variety of devices in modern life.

Single chip microcomputer is a kind of single package embedded system which can be produced and implemented on a large scale. In other words, MCU can achieve a balance between cost and practicality to build a world based on embedded semiconductor systems. Seeing this, Intel began working on its first MCU McS-48 series back in 1974.

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The full-time research and development team for the McS-48 series is small, but the team members devote themselves to the research and development of the series. Engineer David Stamm, then a recent college graduate, had to keep his desk in the hallway because of limited office space. „“ for more than two years, I worked with an engineer and a draftsman to develop 8048 around the clock,“ „he said.

This is a very difficult task. The integration of the processor and memory into a single package is both challenging and difficult. In addition to these technical difficulties, there were also commercial conceptual difficulties. The technology they built was only a few years old, and it was still revolutionary — engineers had to balance performance and price to attract the widest customer base.

Moreover, design tools were limited everywhere. Dwayne Hook must draw each part in the multilayer processor design by hand. Since there are no physical prototypes, there are only a handful of test methods — typically an 8-15 week wait from request to delivery. The only way for engineers to test individual device components is to unplug the wire from the chip and connect it to a 10-15 square foot circuit board simulation simulator.

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A 1976 photo shows what Intel 8748 microprocessors look like at the fingertips. Despite the challenges, the first prototype of the McS-48 came out in the second quarter of 1976. The team had the MCU execute a blackjack program (Stamm liked playing blackjack at the time) and show it to Andy Grove, Gordon Moore and Les Vadasz. To avoid overload, they used a orange with electrodes attached as a battery and wires to the chip. In the second half of the same year, the team took out a McS-48 device in front of the customer.

The series was a big success. One of the products, the 8048, quickly became an industry standard, and in the years that followed, the McS-48 series expanded: they were used in refueling guns, jets, and more, countless other devices. It was also a turning point for microchip technology to become the foundation of modern life. In 1984, less than a decade after its first appearance, 8748 was selected as one of seven Intel products on display at the smithsonian exhibition at the national museum of American history.

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