Monday, May 14, 2018

Intel at 50: Intel’s First Product – the 3101

In April 1969, Intel introduced its first product: the 3101 static random access memory. Intel had begun operations less than a year earlier, in August 1968. At first, the company dedicated itself wholly to research and development, wanting to make the most of its fresh start and develop new technologies instead of just replicating old ones. To develop a product as quickly as possible, the company had pursued three technologies at once: bipolar memory, a product that used established technology but was hard to develop; silicon gate metal-oxide semiconductor memory, which could revolutionize chipmaking but needed to be invented first; and multichip memory, in which four small memory chips were linked together to create a device that was bulky and fragile but cheap. Whichever device proved its viability the fastest would become Intel’s first product. The winner turned out to be the bipolar memory, the 64-bit 3101, a product whose speed in development was a victory in itself.