The Texas Instruments TMX 1795: the first, forgotten microprocessor

In the late 60’s and early 70’s, the technology and market were emerging to set the stage for production of monolithic, single-chip CPUs. In 1969, A terminal equipment manufacturer met with Intel to design a processor that was smaller and would generate less heat than the dozens of TTL chips they were using. The resulting design was the 8008, which is well known as the predecessor to the x86 line of processors that are ubiquitous in desktop PC’s today.

Less well known though, is that Texas Instruments came up with a competing design, and due to development delays at Intel, beat them to production by about nine months.

“The story starts with the Datapoint 2200, a “programmable terminal” sized to fit on a desktop. While originally sold as a terminal, the Datapoint 2200 was really a minicomputer that could be programmed in BASIC or PL/B. Some people consider the Datapoint 2200 the first personal computer as it came out years before systems such as the Apple II or even the Altair. “

Also included in the article is background on the state of the industry at the time, and information on other designs that are commonly stated as the “first microprocessor”.


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