The Intel 8086 microprocessor was introduced 42 years ago today, so I made a high-res die photo. The 10-kilobit microcode ROM is visible in the lower-right corner. The 8086 started the x86 architecture that still dominates computing. The original IBM PC used the related 8088 chip.
While the 8088 received the lionshare of use in IBM PCs and clones, the 8086 had success also and was featured in the first/original COMPAQ Deskpro in 1985. The Deskpro could also run at 7.16 MHz rather than 4.88 MHz, pproviding a performance boost. (Ed. note: The Deskpro was my first desktop computer and sits on my shelf).
Ken further writes:
NEC copied the 8086 microcode for their μPD8086 processor, leading to a huge legal battle with Intel in the 1980s; NEC won because they had made a “clean-room” implementation. But as far as I know, nobody in the general public has deciphered the 8086 microcode.
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