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How the IBM 1403 Printer Hammered Out 1,100 Lines Per Minute

It took tiny electromagnetic hammers to keep up with new data-processing systems

2 min read
Woman demonstrating the IBM 1460
Photo: Mondadori Portfolio/Getty Images

Introduced in October 1959, IBM’s 1401 data-processing system was one of the first transistorized computers ever sold commercially. The 1401 marked the transition from wiring panels and punch cards to stored programs and magnetic tape drives, and it offered performance and versatility at a price that even small businesses could afford—about US $6,500 per month ($54,000 today). Systems with similar features were much larger and cost about six times as much, according to this IEEE Spectrum article, which recounts how a group of engineers rebuilt an IBM 1401. Within a month of its debut, IBM took 3,000 orders for the machine, which was more orders than there were computers in existence at the time. By 1965, nearly half the computers in the world were 1401s.

Video: Computer History Museum

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How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor

Hoff thought designing 12 custom chips for a calculator was crazy, so he created the Intel 4004

14 min read
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How Ted Hoff Invented the First Microprocessor
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The rays of the rising sun have barely reached the foothills of Silicon Valley, but Marcian E. (Ted) Hoff Jr. is already up to his elbows in electronic parts, digging through stacks of dusty circuit boards. This is the monthly flea market at Foothill College, and he rarely misses it.

Ted Hoff is part of electronics industry legend. While a research manager at Intel Corp., then based in Mountain View, he realized that silicon technology had advanced to the point that, with careful engineering, a complete central processor could fit on a chip. Teaming up with Stanley Mazor and Federico Faggin, he created the first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004.

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