1968, now 50 years in the past, was one eventful year.
That’s the year when the Beatles released “The White Album.” When Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy were both assassinated. And, oh yeah, when Intel Corp. was founded in Mountain View, Calif., deep in the heart of what would become Silicon Valley, USA. (Intel in 1970 moved to Santa Clara, which remains its headquarters.)
Technically, Intel’s 50th anniversary date doesn’t arrive until July 18. That’s the day when Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, two engineers who had quit jobs with industry pioneer Fairchild Semiconductor, got Intel rolling.
But Intel’s celebrations have already begun — and for good reason. This company was at the center of the PC revolution. It changed not just computer technology, but an entire society.
Many of the computer industry’s other pioneer companies — including Remington Rand, Cray Research, Amdahl Corp., DEC and Data General — no longer exist. Intel, meanwhile, not only exists, but continues to push innovation in new technologies that include virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence and self-driving cars.
To get a sense of how far Intel has come, consider the company’s earliest products. First came the Intel 3101, a static random-access memory (SRAM) device that held just 64 bits.
Intel's 3101 SRAM: the start of something big
Intel’s second product, the Intel 1101 SRAM, was released a year later, and was notable for being the first commercial chip to use a metal-oxide semiconductor process. By relying on gates that were silicon rather than metal, the 1101 ushered in the silicon of Silicon Valley.
Co-founder Moore is also the eponym for Moore’s Law, first posited in 1965. Less a law than an astute observation, it noted that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit could double every two years.
As Intel points out, Moore was right on target. For example, he predicted that by 1975 a state-of-the-art microchip should be capable of containing up to 65,000 transistors. The actual count for a new series of memory chip released that year was 65,536 — less than 1% off from Moore’s prediction.
To celebrate its historic birthday on July 18, Intel plans to put on a drone show that could make some history of its own.
Intel intends to launch 1,500 of its Shooting Star drones, all controlled by a single pilot, at a show on an Intel site for the company’s employees and their families. Intel Shooting Stars are drones designed for entertainment; as such, they’re equipped with LEDs that can be programmed to display a wide range of colors and animations.
Intel’s Shooting Star drone: lighting up the Winter Olympics night
At this year's Winter Olympics in South Korea, Intel set the world record for the most unmanned aerial vehicles airborne simultaneously with 1,218 drones. So if the company succeeds in launching 1,500 drones in July, that would set a new record.
Fifty years of innovation is something to celebrate. Here’s to 50 years more.