Some say the Intellec 4 was the first complete commercial American microcomputer. The Intellec came out shortly after Intel released the 4004 microprocessor, so Intel was certainly the first vendor to produce a microcomputer using its own chips. Both were designed as development systems for their respective CPUs. In other words, it was a computer used to design and build other computers using the same CPU.
Intel gave an Intellec 8 to a young programmer named Gary Kildall as partial payment for writing the PL/M language used with the system. Kildall then used the Intellec to write CP/M in 1974, which until MS-DOS appeared became the most popular operating system for microcomputers.
Intel actually sold five versions of the Intellec: the Intellec 4 Mod 4 for the 4004 chipset, the Intellec 4 Mod 40 for the 4040 chipset, the Intellect 8 Mod 8 for the 8008 chipset, the Intellec 8 Mod 80 for the 8080 chipset, and the Intellec MDS-800 for the 8080 chipset. Intel has no records for the number sold, but the Computer History Association of California located five of the Intellect 8 Mod 8s in 1994. Chances are good that more are waiting to be found in storage closets and warehouses.
The single-board SIM-4 microcomputer was a development system for the Intel 4004. It was based on MCS-4 (Micro Computer Set) chip set. Intel eventually produced an 8008 version called the SIM-8. The system came in two versions. The SIM-4-01 had sockets for four Intel 1702 ROM and four Intel 4002 RAM chips, and the SIM-4-02 had sockets for 16 PROM chips and 16 4002 RAM chips.
Intel SIM-4 (1972, single-board trainer)
Base Configuration: 4004 CPU, PROM storage
Intel Intellec 4/Intellec 8 (1973, early micro)
Original Retail Price: $2,398 (8)
Base Configuration: 4004 or 4040 (4)/8008 or 8080 (8) CPU, MDS-DOS (8), 12 expansion slots, 16K RAM (8), PROM, front panel switches, I/O interface, PL/M compiler, FORTRAN IV, cross assembler, debugger, manual
Size/Weight: 7 x 17 x 14, 30 lbs.
Important Options: paper tape reader, 8-inch floppy disk drive