Slideshow: The 11 most influential microprocessors ever

In the wide field of microprocessors, some chips have stood out for the influence they've had technologically, culturally, and economically. They aren't necessarily the most successful, the best selling, or the most powerful, but they each started an important and persistent trend - an architecture, a marketing concept, or a whole new use for computing.

5. MOS Technology 6502 (1975)

Breakthrough application: Apple II (1977)

The 6502 was inexpensive and capable: While the Intel 8080 sold for $149, the 6502 sold for only $25. Many computer hobbyists, including a young man named Steve Wozniak, noticed the inexpensive yet powerful chip and began designing computers around it. One of Wozniak's designs became the Apple II, a PC that sold millions of units and set the tone for late-1970s personal computing.

The 6502 powered many other home computers and video game consoles of the early 1980s; derivatives of the 6502 lay at the heart of both the Atari 2600 and the Nintendo Entertainment System, which makes the 6502 the most influential processor in video gaming.

Photos: Steven Stengel

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