Microprocessors are wondrous devices: They integrate the brain of a computer onto a single electronic component. The computing power that once required a room full of equipment now fits onto a razor-thin slice of silicon, usually no larger than a centimeter square. Almost everything we do these days--such as cooking our food, driving our cars, doing our laundry, and, of course, reading articles just like this one--depends on these mighty mites.
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.