By the time Intel released their first 8-bit microprocessor (the 8008) in 1974, AMD was a public company with a portfolio of over 200 products -- a quarter of which were their own designs, including RAM chips, logic counters, and bit shifters. The following year saw a raft of new models: their own Am2900 integrated circuit (IC) family and the 2 MHz 8-bit Am9080
, a reverse-engineered copy of Intel's successor to the 8008. The former was a collection of components that are now fully integrated in CPUs and GPUs, but 35 years ago, arithmetic logic units and memory controllers were all separate chips.
The blatant plagiarism of Intel's design might seem to be somewhat shocking by today's standards, but it was par for the course in the fledgling days of microchips. The CPU clone was eventually renamed as the 8080A, after AMD and Intel signed a cross-licensing agreement in 1976. You'd imagine this would cost a pretty penny or two, but it was just $325,000 ($1.65 million in today's dollars).
The deal allowed AMD and Intel to flood the market with ridiculously profitable chips, retailing at just over $350 or twice that for 'military' purchases. The 8085 (3 MHz) processor followed in 1977, and was soon joined by the 8086 (8 MHz). In 1979 also saw production begin at AMD's Austin, Texas facility.
When IBM began moving from mainframe systems into so-called personal computers (PCs) in 1982, the outfit decided to outsource parts rather than develop processors in-house. Intel's 8086
, the first ever x86 processor, was chosen with the express stipulation that AMD acted as a secondary source to guarantee a constant supply for IBM's PC/AT.