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Intel CEO Andy Grove Declares “War For Consumer Eyeballs″

November 18, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ The computer revolution spawned by the microprocessor will stall, Intel Corp. chief executive Andy Grove said Monday, unless companies win the business of people who still spend their leisure time in front of television.

``Simply put, we are in a war for consumer eyeballs,″ Grove told several thousand people in the keynote speech at Comdex, the computer industry’s biggest trade show. ``We have to go after (consumers) with irresistible and compelling features.″

Thanks to improvements in microprocessors _ a market Intel created and now dominates _ personal computers have popularized the concept of multimedia entertainment, the mixture of text, sound, video and graphics. And with the rise of the Internet, the personal computer also has become an important tool for communications.

But computers _ and the microprocessors that run them _ won’t be able to keep up their phenomenal growth unless they enhance and combine those features with the realistic visual displays that consumers currently get from television, Grove said.

Only that will turn millions of couch potatoes into mouse potatoes.

``The key for us is to recognize that our business is not just about building and selling PCs,″ he said. ``The business we are in is the delivery of information and lifelike, interactive experiences.″

Grove appeared optimistic that this could be done, putting a souped up Intel PC through its visual paces. It produced far better video and sound of a scene from the movie ``Twister″ and gave a far more realistic picture of a simulated village than computers with Intel’s earlier processors.

Grove also reminisced Monday about the microprocessor, which Intel introduced 25 years ago this month.

Intel made memory chips to store data back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It developed the microprocessor _ in effect a tiny computer _ for Busicom, a Japanese company that wanted an all-purpose chip for electronic calculators.

Since then, the microprocessor has become powerful and commonplace. It serves as the brain of millions of PCs and is found in cars, appliances, watches, video game players, and other consumer electronic products.

The first microprocessor, the 4004, was primitive by today’s standards, having 2,300 transistors. Nonetheless, that chip, one-eighth of an inch wide and one-sixth of an inch long, was still as powerful as the Eniac, the first electronic computer, a 30-ton behemoth with 18,000 vacuum tubes.

Today, microprocessors tend to follow Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder and chairman Gordon Moore, which says that technological advances will regularly cause the number of transistors on a chip to double. Currently that takes about 18 months.

Current microprocessors have millions of transistors; Intel’s leading-edge processor, the Pentium Pro, has 5.5 million.

Grove, using Moore’s law but figuring in improvements in design that require fewer transistors, predicted that chip makers in the year 2011 will produce microprocessors with 1 billion transistors.

Making this happen won’t be easy _ or cheap, Grove said. Intel’s first factory, built its first factory in 1973 for $3 million. Its latest will cost $2.5 billion.

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