Friday, June 1, 2018

Intel at 50: The 8086 and Operation Crush

Determined to be the first company to take a 16-bit processor to market, Intel pushed the 8086 from design to shipment in about 18 months. “People today are shocked when I tell them the schedule,” recalled Jim McKevitt, one of the lead engineers. The design team worked many nights and weekends at a rented facility on Walsh Avenue in Santa Clara to push the project across the finish line. The chip made it to market on time in June 1978. The 8086 was the first 16-bit processor and used a pioneering architecture that afforded new levels of performance and flexibility. Just as importantly, Intel approached the processor as part of a larger system — the 8086 came out with an unprecedented suite of supporting products and developmental tools to help people use it and was designed to be the first in a series of forward-compatible chips that would use the same architecture.