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.

9. AIM PowerPC 601 (1992)

Breakthrough application: Apple Power Macintosh 6100 (1994)

PowerPC sprang out of an unnatural and unholy alliance among three fierce competitors: Apple, IBM, and Motorola. The tech giants threw their weight behind this new microprocessor architecture in hopes of breaking the stranglehold that Intel and Microsoft had over the personal-computer market.

Although it didn't vanquish Intel, PowerPC found a niche as the heart of the Apple Macintosh (a runner-up in our list of The 25 Greatest PCs of All Time), which used versions of the CPU from 1994 to 2006. The processor also found acceptance outside of PCs, powering several generations of game consoles, including the Nintendo Wii and the Microsoft Xbox 360. It’s also a component of the Sony PlayStation 3's Cell processor.

Photos: Dirk Oppelt, Apple

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