Historical Development



The word ’hardware’ is used in a wide variety of contexts which range from complete systems like personal computers on one side to the small logical gates on their internal integrated circuits on the other side. At the end all the hardware is just a combination of boolean equations which can be described with simple gates (OR, AND,…), some registers/flipflops (to store values) and state machines.

The Babbage Difference Engine © IEEE 2008 / Nile University

  • 25,000 parts
  • cost: £17,470


The Babbage Difference Engine No1 is denoted to as the first computer. It worked completely with mechanical parts (about 25000) and was capable of about 40 calculations per minute.

Pictures taken from: IEEE Gold Egypt, Nile University- Challenges in the Area of High Performance Nanoscale Circuits, Prof. Yehea Ismail

Web: http://www.ieeegoldegypt.org/Files/Presentations/Nile University/Nile University- Challenges in the Area of High Performance Nanoscale Circuits.ppt

Link: Challenges in the Area of High Performance Nanoscale Circuits

ENIAC © IEEE 2008 / Nile University


ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was then the first purely electronic computer with more than 17000 vacuums tubes and. It weights about 30 tons and consumed an area of about 170 square meter.

The First Transistor © IEEE 2008 / Nile University


The next huge step in computer engineering was the realization of the first transistor in the Bell Labs in 1948.

The First Integrated Circuit © IEEE 2008 / Nile University


Followed by the first integrated circuit by Jack Kilby in 1958. This simple circuit realized the first discrete Flipflop.

Intel 4004 Micro-Processor © IEEE 2008 / Nile University

  • 1000 transistors
  • 1 MHz operation
  • Full-Custom design
  • no design tools
  • no description languages


The Intel 4004 was the first single chip microprocessor in 1971. This was realized as a full custom design, meaning it was completely “hand-made“ without any design tools, without the possibility to simulate and verify the design.

Chapters of System Design > VHDL - Overview and Application Field > Application Field of HDLs