CST President & Chief Executive Officer, Shantanu Gupta, moderates Intel Alumni Panel entitled “The Intel 386 Processor – A watershed moment in computing.”
Last month, I had the high honor and genuine pleasure to serve as the moderator of an online panel discussion held by the Intel Alumni Network. Held on January 11 and recorded for posterity – see the link below — the event was accurately titled “The Intel 386 Processor – A watershed moment in computing.”
As you’ll see, the panel provided fascinating behind-the-scenes perspectives from some of the top innovators assigned to what was then considered Intel’s “Job 1” in the early 1980s, designated as such by legendary then-CEO Andy Grove who rightly staked the company’s future on pivoting away from the commoditized memory business toward the infinite promise of microprocessors.
Included on the panel were John Crawford, Claude Leglise, Joseph “Chip” Krauskopf, and current Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (see their bios below), all of whom clearly enjoyed sharing stories, insights, lessons learned, and friendly reminiscences about the challenges, objectives & strategies, innovations, and camaraderie that characterized the development of Intel’s 386 microprocessor. (It is not an exaggeration to say Intel’s 386 played a seminal role in catalyzing the PC industry in the mid-1980s, which in turn enabled the subsequent ubiquity of microprocessors in countless consumer, business, and industrial electronics we rely on and take for granted today!)
As you dive into the panel discussion – honestly, I think any and all lovers of technology will find it interesting – you may wish to take note of several threads I’ve touched on in recent months here in CST’s blog, among them:
- The importance of educating and providing opportunities for the next generation of technological innovators. As you’ll see, the panelists and their team-mates were largely recent graduates with freshly minted degrees in computer science or other engineering disciplines. Given both a high-stakes objective and a long leash by Intel’s upper management – and blessed with brilliant minds, determination, and a scrappy, can-do attitude – the 386 team and initiative is a perfect case history for why our industry, indeed our nation, should aggressively invest in STEM education.
- Given the intensity of the effort, long hours, risk taking, and multi-person focus on a single goal – a remarkable espirit de corps emerged on the 386 project. I’ve seen and written about the value of teamwork at CST and seen it first hand during my own time at Intel. Yet another reminder how strong teams can achieve incredible results!
- Several of my recent blog posts touched on how critical it is that the United States invests in creating a fully formed semiconductor ecosystem – or, more precisely, recreating the infrastructure we’d begun to develop before the off-shoring craze of the 1990s. When you consider the vast and far-reaching impact that Intel’s 386 had on the PC market following its introduction, it’s no great leap to imagine all we might once again achieve by fostering and investing in the semiconductor-based technology innovation engine right here in America.
- Last but not least, the very exercise of looking back at the early days of the microprocessor is instructive in that it serves as a tangible reminder that we, too, are entering a whole new, but in some ways remarkably similar, technology revolution. AI, IoT, autonomous transportation, augmented and virtual reality, cloud and edge computing, smart cities, astounding technological advances in green and clean-energy, a new era in space exploration… In my heart, this time feels very much like the extraordinary frontier we were entering with the 386. Let us learn, take some of our cues, and take inspiration from those exciting, not-so-distant days.
I hope you enjoy watching and listening to this discussion as much as I enjoyed leading it!
– Shantanu R. Gupta,
President & CEO, Cascade Systems Technology
Panel member biographies:
Claude Leglise started working at Intel straight out of graduate school in 1982 as a Product Marketing Engineer for the 8086/8088 processors. A year later in 1983, he was promoted to marketing manager for the 286 and 386 families, where he was responsible for the successful launch of the 386. As the marketing director for all microprocessors, he led the public launches of several new products, including the 386SX, 486, and i860. After spending 23 years at Intel, Claude switched careers and became a venture capitalist. He has one US patent to his name.
Chip Krauskopf joined Intel and the 386 project in 1983 with a BS in Computer Engineering and an MSEE. He was part of the team responsible for the design of the Segmentation Unit of the 386, which solved the infamous “64K limit” problem for software programmers and earned him an Intel Individual Achievement Award. He later managed the design automation for the 486 and spent 20 years at Intel before moving on to work for startups. Chip has 6 US patents to his name, 5 of which were awarded for his contributions to the 386 project, and has received 4 Intel Achievement Awards.
John Crawford started his career at Intel as a software developer for 8086 programming tools for 4 years before being assigned to the 386 project as its first employee. He served as the Architect, defining the instruction set, and led the development of the microcode and test programs. He went on to lead similar roles on the 486 and Pentium processors. John is now retired and was named an Intel Fellow and member of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds 52 patents and was awarded the ACM/IEEE Eckert-Mauchly Award.
Pat Gelsinger is the CEO of Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker. He joined the company in 1979 and has held a variety of leadership positions in engineering and product groups. Prior to his current role, Gelsinger was the CEO of cloud computing company VMWare. Under his leadership, Intel is focusing on growth and innovation in both its core business and new areas such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things. As CEO of Intel, Pat Gelsinger has made several significant contributions and launched important initiatives to drive the company’s growth and competitiveness, including:
- Investment in advanced manufacturing, including a multi-billion-dollar plan to build two new fabs in the United States and expand existing facilities.
- Focus on AI and data-centric innovation, including the acquisition of Habana Labs, a leading AI chipmaker.
- Partnership with other tech companies to accelerate Intel’s growth and innovation in key areas such as 5G networks, cloud computing, and IoT.
- Reinvigorating Intel’s core PC business, responding to increased competition and supply chain disruptions with several new products and initiatives.
Shantanu Gupta (panel moderator) spent 28 years working at Intel in a variety of roles, including server CPU design development, marketing, and business development for existing and new markets. He joined Intel after finishing graduate school and initially worked on the Intel 960 processor before joining the design team for the Pentium Pro (P6), Intel’s first server processor before Xeon. He has nine patents in the field of processor architecture and design from his work on the Pentium Pro (P6). Today, he is the CEO of Cascade Systems Technology, an EMS company located in Hillsboro, Oregon.
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