This blog about Computer History

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pico/General Instrument

In 1971 Pico Electronics and General Instrument (GI) introduced their first collaboration in ICs, a complete single chip calculator IC for the Monroe/Litton Royal Digital III calculator. This chip could also arguably lay claim to be one of the first microprocessors or microcontrollers having ROM, RAM and a RISC instruction set on-chip. The layout for the four layers of the PMOS process was hand drawn at x500 scale on mylar film, a significant task at the time given the complexity of the chip.
Pico was a spinout by five GI design engineers whose vision was to create single chip calculator ICs. They had significant previous design experience on multiple calculator chipsets with both GI and Marconi-Elliott.The key team members had originally been tasked by Elliott Automation to create an 8 bit computer in MOS and had helped establish a MOS Research Laboratory in Glenrothes, Scotland in 1967.
Calculators were becoming the largest single market for semiconductors and Pico and GI went on to have significant success in this burgeoning market. GI continued to innovate in microprocessors and microcontrollers with products including the PIC1600, PIC1640 and PIC1650. In 1987 the GI Microelectronics business was spun out into the very successful PIC microcontroller business.

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