Intel Corporation

intel¬†From Intel’s “Corporate Overview”;

For more than three decades, Intel Corporation has developed technology enabling the computer and Internet revolution that has changed the world. Founded in 1968 to build semiconductor memory products, Intel introduced the world’s first microprocessor in 1971. Today, Intel supplies the computing and communications industries with chips, boards, systems, and software building blocks that are the “ingredients” of computers, servers and networking and communications products. These products are used by industry members to create advanced computing and communications systems. Intel’s mission is to be the preeminent building block supplier to the Internet economy.

Principal Products and Services
Microprocessors, also called central processing units (CPUs), are frequently described as the “brain” of a computer because they control the central processing of data in personal computers (PCs), servers, workstations, and other devices.

Data General Nova

dg-supernovaEdson deCastro was a former product manager at DEC, creators of the PDP series of computers. He left the company to form Data General and in 1968 they produced the Nova, competing directly with deCastro’s former employers. Although considered crude in comparison, the system was fast for it’s day and offered 16 bits over the PDP-8’s 12. One of it’s biggest innovations was the reduced manufacturing costs by being built on only two printed circuit boards that could be produced without any manual wiring. In contrast the PDP had many boards that had to be wired together. It was popular in industrial and lab settings.

Data General followed up with the SuperNova, then the SuperNova SC, both improving on the performance of the machine. The SC model was the fastest minicomputer of it’s day because of it’s 3.3 Mhz speed. The 1970s saw the Nova 1200, Nova 800, along with a few others. They later followed up with a slew of faster systems including the Eclipse series. The Nova influenced the design of the Xerox Alto, the Apple line from Apple Computer, and the MITS Altair.

Apollo Guidance Computer

apolloThe Apollo Guidance Computer was the first recognizably modern embedded system. It was developed by Charles Draper and the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. Each flight to the moon had two of these computers. They ran the inertial guidance systems of both the command module and LEM.

The Apollo flight computer was the first to use integrated circuits. The computer consisted of roughly a thousand identical integrated circuits, NAND gates. They were interconnected by a technique called wire wrap, in which the circuits are pushed into sockets, the sockets have square posts, and wire is wrapped around the posts. The edges of the posts bite the wire with tons of pressure per square inch, causing gas-tight connections that are more reliable than soldered PC boards. The wiring was then embedded in cast epoxy plastic.