Silicon Engine exhibit at the Computer History Museum in Mt View, CA

by Alan J. Weissberger

On July 1st, the Computer History Museum (CHM) launched the Silicon Engine exhibit, which traces the history of semiconductors that led to the design of the first microprocessor- the Intel 4004. Very impressive artifacts from the CHM collection are displayed in a glass enclosed panel. The artifacts illustrate: early transistors, Jean Hoerni’s first planar transistor (the planar process of semiconductor manufacturing was a key enabler of producing ICs), the genesis of the integrated circuit, the first transistor radio, IBM SLT manufacturing process, a semiconductor based computer circuit board, a 1965 calculator, and other early computing devices. Jack Kilby’s TI engineering notebook pages on the design of the integrated circuit are particularly impressive.

The Silicon Engine exhibit also includes two individual video kiosks and a short video documentary that details the steps that led up to the design and development of the Intel 4004 microprocessor in 1971. The documentary covers the invention of the transistor, its role as a building block of the integrated circuit, the rapid growth of semiconductors and the profound effect these technological breakthroughs have had on modern life.

To view the CHM’s Silicon Engine “virtual exhibit” please visit:

Thanks to David Laws - the Curator of the CHM Silicon Engine exhibit.