Federico Faggin’s Career Leading to the Design of the Intel 4004
The Intel 4004 Microprocessor and the Silicon Gate Technology
A testimonial from Federico Faggin, designer of the 4004 and developer of its enabling technology
Federico Faggin’s Career Leading to the Design of the Intel 4004
Connecting the dots on the road to the 4004.

1960-1961 - Olivetti Electronics Laboratory (Italy): Co-designing and building a small experimental computer at Olivetti.
Federico at 19 led a small team of 4 technicians at the Olivetti Electronics Laboratory in Borgolombardo, near Milano (Italy), to build a small experimental electronic computer. Faggin co-designed and built the computer and became leader of the project when his boss had a serious car accident. During that project he learned much about computer architecture, logic design, and circuit design with transistors, as well as project leadership.

The computer is the rack behind the group housing a few hundred small PC boards, using circuits made with germanium transistors, diodes, resistors and capacitors. The computer had a magnetic core memory of 4096 words of 12 bits per word, and used approximately 1000 logic gates for the CPU. It was completed and fully functional in December 1961.

Image of Federico with 4 technicians in his team at Olivetti
Above: Federico (middle of three men on right) with the 4 technicians in his team at Olivetti (Italy).

1961-1965 - University of Padua (Italy): Laurea in Physics from the University of Padua summa cum laude.
During this period Federico studied Physics at the University of Padua, graduating summa cum laude with an experimental thesis on Flying Spot Scanners for the automatic reading of spark-chamber photographs. He also taught Electronics Laboratory during the Academic year 1965-1966 to 3rd year physics students.

Image of Federico's laurea document
Above: Picture of Federico Faggin's laurea document (diploma). The diploma states that Federico graduated on Dec 1, 1965, summa cum laude ("col massimo dei voti e la lode") in Physics from the University of Padua, Italy.

1967-1968 - SGS-Fairchild (Agrate Brianza, Italy): Core Experience in MOS Process Technology at SGS-Fairchild, now called STMicroelectronics. Federico developed the first metal-gate MOS process technology of SGS-Fairchild. He also designed SGS’ first two commercial MOS Integrated circuits.

1968 - 1970 - Fairchild Semiconductor R&D Laboratory (Palo Alto, CA):
1968: Creation of the new P-channel MOS silicon gate technology (SGT) at Fairchild Semiconductor.
See Federico’s testimonial on the development of the technology that made the microprocessor possible.

Image of Federico sketching SGT in the Intel sponsored video

Above: Federico Faggin sketching the SGT in the Intel sponsored video, "The designer behind the world’s first microprocessor-Federico Faggin".

1968: Designed the Fairchild 3708, the world's first commercial integrated circuit using the SGT.

Image of the Fairchild 3705 and the Fairchild 3708
Above: The Fairchild 3708 with new silicon gate technology (image on left) and the Fairchild 3705 with standard metal gate technology (image on right).

Image of the Fairchild 3708 Poster
Above: Poster of the Fairchild 3708 with a real 3708 chip placed on top.

1969 - 1970: Developed N-channel MOS SGT and feasibility of CMOS SGT.