History Timeline 1990's

President Bush with Gulf War troops. Courtesy National Archives. Right: New York Stock Exchange in 1921 by Irving Underhill, Courtesy Library of Congress.

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U.S. Timeline - The 1990s

Prosperity as the World Turns

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  • Timeline

  • 1993 - Detail

    March 22, 1993 - Intel ships the first Pentium chips, revolutionizing the processing of computers around the world.

    Intel Corporate Headquarters

    The Pentium Revolution

    While it's hard to justify the use of the word revolution when it comes to the computer industry as it began to take over the lives of all through the 1980's, 1990's, and 2000's, the advent of the Pentium chip, dubbed P5, certainly cemented the legacy of Intel as the preeminent chip maker in the world, with most of the computers subsequent to the Pentium's date of origination, using the Intel chip and its successors. Intel would continue to brand their new chips as Pentium until 2006, when at first, Pentium would be retired as a brand. This lasted only one year, although today, Pentium has been relegated, as a name, to Intel's middle class of chip.

    Development of the new generation of chip, that P5, was done under the codename "Operation Bicyle," on a dual track system with two parallel execution pipelines. It was dubbed Pentium due to an odd quirk in the United States trademark system that did not allow its former designations, such as 386 and 486, because they were numbers, to be registered as trademarks. Thus, Pentium was christened, and therefore, trademarkable. A trademarked name would prevent competitors, such as AMD, with piggybacking on the brand as they had been doing with the numbers before.

    Pentium's Original Flaw

    Within one year of its shipment in 1993, Intel engineers discovered a floating decimal point flaw in some Pentium models that would provide an incorrect outcome. Several months after the engineers discovered the flaw, a professor at Lynchburg College also discovered the fact and let the world know. Intel had been keeping word of the mistake quiet. The flaw would result in a $475 million cost to Intel to replace the defected chips, but is often regarded, in an odd fashion, with pushing the campaign of "Intel Inside" and the public profile of the company in a positive manner.

    How Did Intel Begin?

    Intel was founded in 1968 by semiconductor engineers Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore in Mountain View, California with $2.5 million in venture capital that was raised in two days. Noyce, a physicist and graduate of MIT, had been a key inventor of the microchip, working with Fairchild Semiconductor since 1957. The initial success of Intel as a corporation was in the manufacture of the SRAM and DRAM chip, not the microprocessor. The microprocessor (Intel 4004) was invented by Intel's 12th employee, Marcian Hoff, as well as Intel employees Stanley Mazor and Frederico Faggin in 1971. The boom, however, in Intel's microprocessor business, did not become predominent until the personal computer revolution began to boom in the 1990's. In 1987, they were the 10th largest producer of semiconductors in the world. With the business partnerships forged with IBM and their competitors in the personal computer market, by 1992, Intel was the largest chip maker in the world.

    Today, Intel has revenues of over $62 billion per year (2017) and employs 106,000 workers. The company philosophy, in many ways, still stems from the motto coined by founder Robert Noyce, "Don't be encumbered by history, go off and do something wonderful."

    Photo above: Headquarters of the Intel Corporation, 2017. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Photo below: Microchip, Intel 8742m 2003. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons. Info source: Intel.com; Silicon Valley Historical Society; Wikipedia Commons.

    Intel Microprocessor

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