Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Busicom Calculator vs. The Intel Pentium 4

When it comes to computer speed, we've come a long way in the last 38 years.

In 1971, the Information Age officially started when Intel introduced the first microprocessor, which had a speed of 108 KHz (108 thousand instructions per second), and was the equivalent of 2,300 transistors. "This breakthrough invention powered the Busicom calculator (see left picture above) and paved the way for embedding intelligence in inanimate objects as well as the personal computer," according to Intel.

With constant innovation and improvement (see Intel's timeline), the current generation of microprocessors (Pentium 4, introduced in 2004, see photo above) run at 3.6 GHz (3.6 billion instructions per second) and are the equivalent of almost 100 million transistors.

Compared to the original 4004 chip, the current Pentium 4 is 33,333 times faster, an impressive technological advance over a 38-year period that has to be unprecedented in human history. According to Intel, if automobile speed had increased similarly over the same period, you could now drive from San Francisco to New York in about 13 seconds.


At 3/20/2009 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But does the Intel chip produce a tape of your calculations that you can attach to your reconciliation sheet before you file it?

What are you going to compare next, a pair of shoes to a pet cat?

At 3/21/2009 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but just another aspect of calculation, the price of the Busicom Jr. (in the UK) in 1971 was about $400.

Today, you can buy an entire fairly powered entry-level computer for around $400.


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