Design News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Milestones in Microprocessor Development

Intel's 8086 processor is the foundation for the microprocessors in many of the PCs introduced from the early 1980s on.
This timeline traces the development of the microprocessor, the key electronics device that enabled the development of the PC.

Many of the improvements in the speed and computing ability of today’s PCs and embedded systems can be traced to the microprocessor, which has evolved from the 4-bit devices in the early 1970s to today’s 64-bit devices and multi-core processors. Microprocessors, which contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circuitry required to perform the functions of a computer's central processing unit, have benefitted from trends such as greater chip integration and the implementation of multiple-core architectures. Microprocessors have enabled the dramatic leaps in high-speed PCs, servers for vast communications networks, and are driving applications in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The companies that have played a part in the microprocessor revolution are a who’s who in electronics history, including Texas Instruments, Intel, AMD, and Motorola.

The following gallery traces some key milestones in the rich history of the microprocessor.

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor for Design News covering the electronics beat. He has many years of experience covering developments in components, semiconductors, subsystems, power, and other facets of electronics from both a business/supply-chain and technology perspective. He can be reached at [email protected]

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.