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Significance Although the 74181 is only an ALU and not a complete microprocessor it greatly simplified the development and manufacture of computers and other devices that required high speed computation during the late 1960s through the early 1980s, and is still referenced as a "classic" ALU design.<ref>Kestrel: Design of an 8-bit SIMD parallel processor Proc. 17th Conf. on Advanced Research in VLSI, September 15–17, 1997, page 11</ref>

Prior to the introduction of the 74181, computer CPUs occupied multiple circuit boards and even very simple computers could fill multiple cabinets. The 74181 allowed an entire CPU and in some cases, an entire computer to be constructed on a single large printed circuit board. The 74181 occupies a historically significant stage between older CPUs based on discrete logic functions spread over multiple circuit boards and modern microprocessors that incorporate all CPU functions in a single component. The 74181 was used in various minicomputers and other devices beginning in the 1970s, but as microprocessors became more powerful the practice of building a CPU from discrete components fell out of favor and the 74181 was not used in any new designs.

74181 sections
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