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.

10. Motorola 68000 (1980)

Breakthrough application: Apple Macintosh (1984)

When Motorola released the 68000 in 1980, it was one of the most powerful chips on the market. Initially the 68000 powered Unix workstations and servers, including the Sun-1. But the hybrid 16/32-bit processor didn't make huge waves in the personal-computer world until Apple incorporated it in 1984's Macintosh. Descendants of the 68000 powered all Macintosh computers until Apple switched to PowerPC chips in the late 1990s.

After Motorola dropped the 68000’s price the mid-1980s, the processor also saw significant use in the Atari ST and Amiga computer lines, the Sega Genesis video game console, and arcade machines. The 68K core still lives on in embedded microcontrollers used in various applications such as automotive-engine controllers, front-panel displays, and weather-monitoring instruments.

Photos: CPU-World.com, Apple

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