Monday, October 13, 2008

Intel, x86 processors, and the IBM PC

Despite the ultimate significance of the microprocessor, the 4004 and its successors the 8008 and the 8080 were never major revenue contributor at Intel. As the next processor, the 8086 was finished in 1978; Intel embarked on a major advertising and sales campaign for that chip nicknamed "Operation Crush", and planned to win as many customers for the processor as probable. One design win was the newly-created IBM PC division, though the significance of this was not fully realized at the time.

IBM introduced its personal processor in 1981, and it was rapidly successful. In 1982, Intel shaped the 80286 microprocessor, which, two years later, was old in the IBM PC/AT. Compaq, the first IBM PC "clone" manufacturer, in 1985 produced a desktop scheme based on the faster 80286 processor and in 1986 quickly follow with the first 80386-based system, beating IBM and establish a competitive market for PC-compatible systems and setting up Intel as a key component dealer.

In 1975 the company had started a project to expand a highly-advanced 32-bit microprocessor, finally free in 1981 as the Intel iAPX 432. The project was too ambitious and the processor was not at all able to meet its recital objectives, and it failed in the marketplace. Intel extensive the x86 architecture to 32 bits instead.

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