The Secret History of the First Microprocessor, the F-14, and Me

Was central Air data computer first microprocessor? Well, histories are complicated. In 1998, Ray finally got to know people, and Wall Street Journal Microprocessor from the chip industry published a piece titled “Yet Another ‘Father’ of Accreditation Wants.” Intel engineers sharing the title told the paper that the Central Air data computer was heavy, it was expensive, it was not a general purpose device. One expert stated that it was not a microprocessor because of how processing was distributed between the chips. Another – Russell Fish said – noted that “the company that had this technology could become Intel. It could accelerate the microprocessor industry at that time in five years.” But others around that time Also wanted to claim the microprocessor’s father’s title; There were others; Big patent fights, And not everyone agrees on the exact Definition of microprocessor In the first place.

“Discussion,” says Fish, who runs one today IP licensing company called Venray, “This is not a technical one, it is a philosophical one.” At one point Fish wrote that a 4-bit 4004 “can count to 16”, while a 20-bit CADC “rapidly evaluates a sixth-order polynomial expression to move the control surfaces of a dogfighting swing-wing supersonic fighter.” having had.” When I spoke to him recently, he said that he went back through the document. “What Ray Holt did was absolutely fantastic,” he says. “Specifically the time limit has been given. Ray was ahead of the generation, algorithmically and computationally. “

There is a way to harden in official history, but pay attention to the very careful language on Intel’s website today, when it describes the 4004, that the first microprocessor (emphasis mine) canonical: “The first general-purpose program processor. in the market. “

The device was invented by Ray and team, a non-commercial, not-on-the-market microprocessor, a stumped branch on a family tree. It flew an aircraft that could fly fast and slow and fire missiles with unprecedented accuracy, but it did not produce anything else. A magnificent and beautiful cryptic butterfly that did not forget other butterflies.

Except.

Ray says he likes to find out “what the kids are really interested in.” For Skylar DiBenedetto which was VR and 3D printing.

Photo: William Widmer

What Ray is doing now is launching another set of short histories, individuals, as he leads hundreds of students on a different path, dropping a different kind of logic gates. “As a robotics teacher, it’s astronomical, in fact, what he does,” says Skyler DiBenedetto, his former student. Ray and Liz helped Skylar discover VR and 3D printing, and she is now a freshman at Ole Miss, the first person in her immediate family to go to college, where she helps run a virtual reality lab .

And he is not stopping. In our last conversation just before Thanksgiving, he describes an after-school program for public school children that he and some other colleagues want to start after the new year. He is wearing a hat commemorating the last flight of the F-14, and I note the cross on his back frame. A friend of a friend has donated a large venue, and he and Liz Patin and a few others are going to talk to local leaders and teachers and set it up. Perhaps further down the line he will raise enough money to execute his idea for a Christian-based STEM high school – the sketches for this look stunning, arranging classrooms and labs around a central robot-competition arena. When I ask Ray if it’s a stretch to say that his job of connecting with the kids is a bit reminiscent of the way he was able to connect with Bill when he was working on the F-14 project, he says , ‘”Not a stretch at all.” Maybe they could have started a company together as well. “I think we could have probably made some useful products.”

Ray eventually decided to step out of the jackfruit technology industry and focus his attention on youth sports, seeing it as a way to have a relationship with Bill. Unless you follow your passion, he says that “life can be useless, boring and meaningless.”

Photo: William Widmer

The weekend before this piece was published, I see myself lazily in the bookshelf under the television and my eyes focus on a small volume called Portable James Joyce. It looks old, and I don’t remember if it could actually be opened, but I have some scratches in my brain. I pull it out and turn to the front. It is marked. William B. Holt 1/6/65. I flip the table of contents. Some stories are lightly outlined in pencil, with “the artist’s portrayal as a youth” and “dead”. A young man, who was organizing his early days at university, for five years before he died he could never think, reading a short story about a man who thought of his wife, about a man Thinked who died.

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