NOPE. THIS isn't the definitive list of the fastest microprocessors, or the best available right now, or the biggest sellers. In fact, some of the microprocessors on this list sold only by the handful, rather than the millions or tens of millions.
Rather, it's about the most innovative, exciting, interesting and different microprocessors. The ones that, in many cases, changed an industry or remain seared on people's memory.
Naturally, that makes our rankings highly subjective, so feel free to flame away if you disagree with any of our choices.
10. Zilog Z80
There were really only three microprocessors in the home computer revolution of the 1970s and 1980s: MOS Technologies' 6502, Motorola's 6809 and Zilog's Z80. But the Z80 arguably made it to the heart of more computers than any other 8-bit chip, and enjoyed a commercial use in the embedded sector long after people's 48k Sinclair Spectrums had gone phut.
Introduced in 1976, it was a great debut from a startup company. It was conceived and designed by Fairchild 'refugee' Federico Faggin and just 11 other employees in little over a year.
A software compatible extension of Intel's 8080, it was originally intended for embedded systems before hobbyists and enthusiasts snapped it up for use in home computing, introducing computers to the mass market for the first time.
The Z80 made it into the heart of Sir Clive Sinclair's excellent home computers, of course, as well as the Amstrad CPC and PCW ranges, Camputers Lynx, Coleco Adam, Color Genie, Tandy TRS-80, Research Machine's god awful 380Z and 480Z, Sord M5, MSX, Osborne-1 and (altogether now) the Memotech MTX. It was also widely licensed (and ripped off, especially on the other side of the Iron Curtain).
The machines that the Z80 powered launched millions of careers in IT and beat MOS Technologies (with the 6502) to market. And that makes it one of the greats.
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