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.

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1. Intel 4004 (1971)

Breakthrough application: Busicom 141-PF Calculator (1971)

What microprocessor could be more influential than the first commercial model of all time? The 4004 was a 4-bit processor designed specifically for Busicom desktop calculators. It proved that a potentially wider market for microprocessors existed, and it led Intel--then a memory-chip manufacturer in search of a calling--to its true destiny, that of a microprocessor innovator and a trendsetter for decades to come.

Photos: Dentaku Museum, Intel

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Slideshow: The 11 most influential microprocessors ever

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