Developed during the 1970s, the microprocessor became most visible as the central processor of the personal computer. Microprocessors also play supporting roles within larger computers as smart controllers for graphics displays, storage devices, and high-speed printers. However, the vast majority of microprocessors are used to control everything from consumer appliances to smart weapons. The microprocessor has made possible the inexpensive hand-held electronic calculator, the digital wristwatch, and the electronic game. Microprocessors are used to control consumer electronic devices, such as the programmable microwave oven and DVD player; to regulate gasoline consumption and antilock brakes in automobiles; to monitor alarm systems; and to operate automatic tracking and targeting systems in aircraft, tanks, and missiles and to control radar arrays that track and identify aircraft, among other defense applications.
See A. R. Ismail and V. M. Rooney, Microprocessor Hardware and Software Concepts (1987); I. L. Sayers, A. P. Robson, A. E. Adams, and G. E. Chester, Principles of Microprocessors (1991); M. Slater, A Guide to RISC Microprocessors (1992).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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