Processors – the heart of any computer. The components that execute more than 1,000,000,000 actions per second. They are fast, small and energy efficient. But it took them a long time to get to the stage they’re currently at. Let’s go down the memory lane and check out the most important processors of all time:
Intel 4004 (1971)
This processor was the first commercially available microprocessor. As the name suggests, it was a 4-bit processor initially designed for the Busicom 141-PF Calculator. It was then that Intel realized the future would be based on the microprocessors.
Intel 8080 (1974)
Intel 4004 was the first, but a later model was, if fact, the popular one – the Intel 8080. It was an 8-bit CPU great for computers. The first to use it was MITS Altair 8800. It was the beginning of the Intel’s 80x series. Needless to say, the processor was copied by many. The most significant copy was Zilog Z80, which was cheaper and powered the Nintendo GameBoy.
MOS Technology 6502 (1975)
If you are an Apple fan, you know this one. Steve Wozniak was experimenting with it. Later on one of the designs became the Apple II. The same processor powered many consoles such as Nintendo Entertainment System and Atari 2600.
RCA COSMAC CDP 1802 (1976)
This one has extraterrestrial fame. It was in NASA’s Voyager 1! The processor was in many different satellites and probes. Durable with low power consumption.
Intel 8086 (1978)
With this processor, Intel started the 16-bit processors. There were not many significant computers with it, but it is in this list of the most important processors because it created the x86 standard. Software specificallu written for it can still be executed by a modern processor. Amazing, isn’t it?
Motorola 68000 (1980)
When Motorola introduced this processor, it was the most powerful chip on the market. People used it for workstations and servers. It was used in Apple Macintosh, and later in Atari ST, Amiga computers and Sega Genesis.
Intel 80386 (1985)
Intel 80386 was a 32-bit processor which supported backward compatibility. It was a huge thing that allowed developers to run their programs even if they were written for 16-bit.
Acorn Computers ARM2 (1986)
The interesting thing about this processor is its architecture. It is the ARM. The same as in almost all modern smartphones and even server processors. It was first used in 1987 on Acorn Archimedes, and it was a 32-bit RISC processor.
Intel Pentium (1993)
If you are a millennial, you might regard the Pentium line as cheap, but back in the days, it was the best CPU out there. The first version had a frequency of just 60MHz, but it was as fast as the AMD 486 at 100MHz.
AMD Opteron 240 (2003)
AMD Opteron 240 was a 64-bit processor which could handle 32-software without severe performance costs. It worked with x84-64 instructions, and those instructions were established as a standard which is still used in today’s desktop computers.
So, what will the future bring us? Are we going to adopt the quantum or continue using x86 architecture? Will the mobile ARM architecture take over the market? What will the next big innovation be?