Historic lessons — When Intel employees figured that processors would sell “a lot of memories”
Intel, once a leader in the memory business, was able to go through strategic changes that gave them a leadership position in the computer processors category. This note highlights a special moment from Intel’s history — the moment when they figured that focusing on processors would give them a strategic position to the point of selling memories and other devices.
This note was based in the following panel, Intel Crush Panel, published by the Computer History Museum. Despite the amazing events presented, I am limiting my observations to the situation when they reached clarity about the microprocessor role.
I remember earlier, earlier years, whenever Mike Markkula was product manager of memory components. That’s what his job was. And he was telling me that we’ve got this new thing, called the 8008 at the time that was going to sell a lot of memory. So the whole idea of the microprocessor originally was it’s going to sell a lot of memory. McKenna @ Computer History Museum 2014. 28min45sec
It’s crucial to recall Intel’s context at the time of this Operation Crush — that Intel moved away from being a leader in the memory business. They reached an inflection point in terms of learning: They were possibly on top of a category in development, surfacing the beginning.
The processor could have “legs,” meaning devices. This interoperation level would drive sales to all sorts of peripherals from the micro level to the macro level.
Therefore, the idea of a processor as an element that would sell more memories had nothing to do with them going back to sell memories. They would sell memories of partners this time (possibly the ones that took them out of the memory business in the first place — I am assuming).
Computer History Museum (2014). Intel Crush Panel. Mountain View, California. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvCzdeDoPzg. See video transcript http://archive.computerhistory.org/resources/access/text/2015/09/102746836-05-01-acc.pdf