In 1982, Intel released the 80286 microprocessor, which it eventually shortened to just the 286. This was the first attempt by Intel to create a microchip that could run any of the software written for previous Intel processors. Prior to the release of the 286, none of the Intel processors were backwards compatible--able to run programs written for previous generations of processors. The ability to be backwards compatible with all previous generations is now standard with Intel products. The expanded compatibility of the 286 resulted in the sale of over 15 million personal computers throughout the world.
The 386 generation of microprocessors was released in 1985, and it was the first processor to allow a computer to multi-task, which is the ability to run more than one program simultaneously. The programs were simple, and they were limited to only two or three at one time, but this was a huge jump in technology for home computing.The next generation 486 was released in 1989, and this processor had a built-in math co-processor that allowed it to do complicated computations at a fraction of the time of previous generations. The 486 also allowed for a wider array of colors, and it also allowed for the introduction of true point-and-click technology.Prior to the 486, it was necessary to purchase a math co-processor separately to get the maximum speed out of an Intel microprocessor.
The Pentium processor was first introduced in 1993 at speeds of 60 Mhz and 66 Mhz. It contained over 3 million transistors that greatly expanded the processor's computing capability and that increased its speed.In 2000, Intel introduced the Pentium 4 family of processors, which featured an initial speed of 1.5 Ghz.Intel continued to make design changes to the Pentium line, which included introducing dual core and quad core processors that were the equivalent of two processors in one and four processors in one.In 2009, Intel finally retired the Pentium name and introduced a new core technology called Merom.
The Pentium line of processors was actually going to be called the 586 line, but Intel found it difficult to put patents on a product that was referred to only by a number, so they decided to use the Pentium name instead. The name "Pentium" was created by a marketing firm named Lexicon Branding in 1992 and then used by Intel in its 1993 release. The very first line of Pentium processors was not very successful. A floating point error in the processor caused it to miscalculate on a regular basis, and this prompted one of the largest recalls in the history of the computer industry. It wound up costing Intel over $450 million to recall the defective chips. To avoid the problem ever happening again, Intel created a quality control division that checks each microprocessor before it leaves the factory.