Intel 8088


The Intel 8088 is an 8-bit microprocessor introduced by Intel Corporation in 1979. It is a variation of the more powerful Intel 8086 processor, featuring a 16-bit external data bus but with an 8-bit internal data path. Due to its lower cost and compatibility with both 8-bit and 16-bit hardware, the Intel 8088 was widely adopted and became the driving force behind the IBM PC and subsequent personal computers in the 1980s.


The phonetics of the keyword “Intel 8088” can be represented as:- Intel: /ˈɪntəl/- 8088: /eɪt oʊ eɪt eɪt/ or /ˈeɪtiːoʊˈeɪtiːˈeɪt/This pronunciation spells out the individual numbers and the company name.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Intel 8088 is an 8-bit microprocessor with 16-bit internal architecture, introduced by Intel in 1979, and was widely used in personal computers like the IBM PC.
  2. It uses the x86 instruction set and has a clock speed of 4.77 MHz to 8 MHz, allowing for efficient processing and multitasking capabilities.
  3. One of its key features is its 20-bit address bus, which allows it to address up to 1 MB of memory, providing more computing power and flexibility in memory management.


The Intel 8088 microprocessor is a crucial technological milestone because it played a pivotal role in the development of personal computers.

Launched in 1979, the 8088 was the first truly successful 16-bit microprocessor with an 8-bit external data bus, making it more affordable and easier to implement in computer designs.

This chip powered IBM’s first personal computer, the IBM PC, in 1981, leading to widespread adoption of personal computers for both business and personal use.

The 8088’s architecture laid the foundation for the x86 processor family, which continues to dominate the modern computing landscape, thanks to its backward compatibility and incremental advancements.

Thus, the Intel 8088 played a vital role in shaping the world of computing as we know it today.


The Intel 8088 microprocessor played a pivotal role in the early days of personal computing as it was the central processing unit (CPU) used in the original IBM PC and its clones. Launched in 1979, the 8088 was designed to bring the power of the 16-bit computing environment to a broader consumer market with its cost-effective and efficient design.

Its purpose was to provide processing capabilities for a wide array of applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, database management, and even rudimentary gaming, which paved the way for the immense popularity of personal computers in the early 1980s. The Intel 8088’s enduring legacy in the tech world can be attributed to its smart design choices and innovative features for its time.

It had a 16-bit internal data bus and 8-bit external data bus, which enabled it to handle operations faster and more efficiently than many of its contemporaries. Moreover, its compatibility with existing 8080 and 8085 software meant that a wealth of applications were readily available for early adopters of 8088-based PCs.

The adoption of the Intel 8088 by IBM for their first PC also encouraged third-party developers to create applications and peripherals that expanded its functionality, thereby solidifying its place in history as a milestone in personal computing development.

Examples of Intel 8088

The Intel 8088 microprocessor was first introduced in 1979 and became widely used during the rise of personal computers in the early 1980s. Here are three real-world examples of the Intel 8088 technology in various computer systems and applications:

IBM Personal Computer Model 5150 (IBM PC): Launched in 1981, the IBM PC Model 5150 was a personal computer powered by the Intel 8088 microprocessor. This computer was influential in spreading the use of PCs in homes and small businesses, and it established IBM’s PC architecture as the market’s de facto standard. The IBM PC Model 5150 proved to be a major milestone in the history of personal computing.

Compaq Portable: Released in 1983, the Compaq Portable was the first product from Compaq Computer Corporation, and it was one of the first portable, “luggable” IBM PC-compatible computers. Powered by the Intel 8088 microprocessor, the Compaq Portable provided users with computing power and compatibility similar to the IBM PC at an affordable price, contributing to the growth of laptop and portable computing.

NEC PC-9801: Launched in 1982, the NEC PC-9801 was a series of personal computers designed and manufactured by NEC Corporation. This computer line was one of the most successful in Japan, with over 18 million units sold. The PC-9801 was powered by the Intel 8088 chip and was particularly popular in business and productivity applications, as well as for gaming and software development during the 1980s and 1990s.These examples illustrate the impact of the Intel 8088 microprocessor in shaping the early personal computing market, helping to establish IBM PC-compatible systems as the dominant industry standard and paving the way for the modern computers we know today.

Intel 8088 FAQ

What is the Intel 8088?

The Intel 8088 is an 8-bit microprocessor introduced by Intel in 1979. It is famous for being used in the original IBM PC, which revolutionized personal computing at the time. Despite being an 8-bit processor, it has a 16-bit architecture and could support a large number of peripheral devices.

What is the relationship between the Intel 8088 and the Intel 8086?

The Intel 8088 is a variant of the Intel 8086, sharing the same x86 architecture. The main differences between the two are that the Intel 8088 has an 8-bit external data bus (compared to the 8086’s 16-bit data bus) and utilized slightly different third-party chipsets. These differences allowed the 8088 to be more affordable, making it appealing for early personal computer manufacturers.

What is the clock speed of the Intel 8088?

The Intel 8088 operates at a clock speed of 4.77 MHz for the variant used in the IBM PC and up to 10 MHz for other versions. The slower clock speed, compared to the Intel 8086, was a trade-off for the cost savings that made it ideal for the personal computing market at the time.

What is the memory capacity supported by the Intel 8088?

The Intel 8088 can directly address up to 1MB of memory, which was quite substantial considering that most personal computers of that era had only around 640KB or less of RAM installed. The larger addressing capability allowed systems based on the 8088 to utilize more memory for complex calculations and applications.

What is the instruction set of the Intel 8088?

The Intel 8088 uses the x86 instruction set, which was also used by the Intel 8086. This instruction set has backward compatibility with the 8008 and 8080 processors. The x86 instruction set eventually became an industry standard that is still used in modern processors to this day. This compatibility allowed software written for the 8088 to be executed on later x86 processors with little to no modifications.

Related Technology Terms

  • Microprocessor
  • x86 architecture
  • 16-bit computing
  • IBM PC
  • Eight-bit external data bus

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