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Old 10-31-2000, 11:33 AM
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sdimbert's recent threat (http://boards.academicpursuits.us/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=44347) jogged my memory about something I meant to ask here a few months ago.

In the Days of the Ancients, the names of IBM and what we used to call "IBM-Compatible" PC's were fairly predictable:

(to the best of my recollection...)

8086 ("PC")
8086/8088 ("PC-XT")
80286 ("PC-AT" or "I've got a 286!")
80386 ("386")
80486 ("486")
...then we enter some sort of wormhole...
Pentium
Pentium II
Pentium III
...and several parallel universies with the Celeron, et al.

Here's my several questions:
1. Why didn't Intel stick with the pattern? Why was there never (officially) a 586, 686, 786, et al.? Was this just some sort of marketing thing, or is there some sort of fundamental difference between the pre-Pentium Processors and the Pentiums? Is the P-IV really just 80886?
2. While we're at it, why was there never an 80186? For a while, I thought the XT was the "186" (this back in 1987-88) but I was obviously(?) wrong.
3. What happened to the "cutsey nicknames"? PC, XT, AT, and then that was abandoned for CPU number... 386, 486... although I suppose the Pentium is the return of the cutsey. I guess. See question #1.
4. Hey... PC's pretty obvious, but what did XT and AT stand for, anyway?

Missing my old PC-XT (Well, my old IBM-compatible Blue Chip computer) with a math co-processor, hercules monochrome graphics, laser mouse, and green monitor (Ah, the days before computer technology overran me!)...

Caveat: if you're going to post a link to some techie explanation, please provide a translation. The one in the second message of sdimbert's threat put me in a drooling coma...
Old 10-31-2000, 11:44 AM
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The big, simple reason is that you can't trademark a number. The Pentium was Intel's first mass-marketed chip and they wanted a brand name to go along with it.
Old 10-31-2000, 11:44 AM
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Intel could Tradmark the Pentium. You can't trademark a number. The AT/XT is the motherboard form factor. Currently most computers use an ATX board.
Old 10-31-2000, 11:55 AM
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There was (and still may be) a 80186 -- it's used in embedded systems (e.g. microwave ovens, VCRs). It was never really used in PCs, although I think there are one or two 186-based PCs out there.

FWIW, Intel's tradition of using numbers as CPU names started back in the mid-70s with the 4004, so named because that was approximately the number of transistors contained in the chip (as opposed to the tens of millions you'll find in the newest Pentiums).

IIRC, AT stood for "Advanced Technology", which it was at the time.
Old 10-31-2000, 11:56 AM
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PC = Duh
PC XT = Now with Hard Drives!
PC AT = Advanced Technology (more memory, faster CPU, ect.)

And the explination about why we have a 486 but not a 586 is dead on. You can't patent, trademark, or copyright a number. You can patent everything else, but not a number.
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Old 10-31-2000, 11:56 AM
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1. The convention was changed from numbers (which indicate the speed of the chip in megahertz) to names (which indicate nothing at all) because the courts ruled that Intel could not trademark a number. In order to diferentiate their chip in the marketplace and build brand loyalty Intel came up with the Pentium moniker.

2. My wag is that the technology crept at first, going from 8086 to 8088, then quantum leaped to 286 - effectively making the 186 obsolete before it was born. I know a few people like that.

3. See answer 1. The chip was not called XT or AT, the computer was. The chip itself was an 8086, 8088, 286, etc.

4. I don't remember. It's all a Bournelli box haze now.
Old 10-31-2000, 12:12 PM
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They kinda did stick with the pattern with Pentium. Notice that the prefix Pent- means 5. I was hoping the next one would be called Sexium, but they went with the Pentium II instead, probably to keep the brand going.

I don't think anyone said why it's called "Celeron" though. Sounds like a chemical name to me. Maybe something contained in the chip. But that's just a guess.
Old 10-31-2000, 12:24 PM
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IIRC the 8086 was more advanced than the 8088 and IBM never used it. I think it had a 16 bit i/o path as did the 80186 used in at least one Radio Shack PC. Both the PC and PC/XT used a 4.77MHz 8088 Fuzzy memory tells me Compaq trumped them with the 8086 running at 8MHz.

Don't forget the clone chips. It all started with the 8-bit Intel 8080 in CP/M machines (the 4004 was a calculator chip) with the competing Zilog Z-80 clone chip. Back when I sold Kaypros in a little mom and pop store in Montana I could brag to our customers that the NEC-V20 (an 8088 clone, there was a V30 8086 clone as well) running at 8MHz with zero wait state memory would run the Norton utilities benchmark at 3.1 times the speed of a true IBM. The NEC chips cost only about $20 IIRC and were an efficient little hot rod modification for most PCs.

Then there were the math chips if you wanted fast Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheets or to run Autocad at all. I had an 8MHz 8087 that I paid over $100 for and it ran hotter than the hinges of hell. The little sumbitches were known to weld themselves into the sockets and I burned my fingers more than once on one. There was also the 80287, 80387, 80387SX possibly one for the 486SX. Wisely Intel decided to put the decimal co-processor in on the CPU from the 486 onward.

The first machine I owned was a Sanyo MBC-550. An 8088 running at 3.5MHz with 256k or RAM. It was the only PC you could buy that was slower than a real IBM. It was DOS compatible but not fully IBM PC compatible.
Old 10-31-2000, 12:34 PM
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Padeye
I had a Kaypro for a while. Not a bad computer either. When I transported it, folks thought I was carrying a sewing machine!

Remember when the Kapro and others of it's ilk could not read each others floppy format?
Old 10-31-2000, 12:43 PM
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Regarding the trademark issue.

In the early days, Intel had no true competition for it's processors in the PC world. When Cyrix and others started creating processors and using the numerical nomenclature in their names, the Intel lawyers got a big woody and said "Stop stealing our name". Since the courts laughed at the notion of trademarking a number (I'd like to trademark #1, please), Intel changed their naming convention. Now the competitors have to use marketing savvy to let the public know which processor their chips are equivalent to.
Old 10-31-2000, 01:20 PM
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c_goat sez:
Quote:
I don't think anyone said why it's called "Celeron" though. Sounds like a chemical name to me. Maybe something contained in the chip. But that's just a guess.
"Celerity" is a word meaning fast or speedy. I would WAG that Celeron is a derivative of that.
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Old 10-31-2000, 01:41 PM
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Regarding why "Pentium" instead of 586: what they said above.

But why, you may be wondering, are Intel chips STILL called "Pentium" so long after the 5th generation CPU era has passed away? Heh heh heh...

Scene 1: The Ad Company Presents the New Ad Campaign

Andy Grove: "Hey adfolks, the ad copy looks great, but can I talk to you in general terms about the, uh, 'Sextium'? I have some concerns..."

Scene 1, Take II:

Andy Grove: "I see you took my concerns about the 'Sextium' to heart. Ummm...I hate to say it but I have some reservations about 'Hextium' as well..."
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Old 10-31-2000, 01:51 PM
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For a short while Pentium was used interchangeably with 586.
And the Pentium II was also a 686. I'm not sure if 786 is an acceptable name for the Pentium III or not, because I've never heard of it, but it wouldn't surprise me if if was. But up through the Pentium II they were all still usually refered to as x86 architecture.
Old 10-31-2000, 01:57 PM
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Quote:
When Cyrix and others started creating processors and using the numerical nomenclature in their names, the Intel lawyers got a big woody
IIRC it was AMD's 386-40 that got Intel all bent out of shape. By then, of course, the 486 was already out, so it was too late to rename it. But not too late, of course, for the next generation, which became Pentium. For those of you who weren't computer savvy back then (which is probably a decent percentage of you) Intel had a huge lawsuit against AMD about these processors (and about their 486 successors). At the time, AMD was making clones of Intel's chips, rather than selling their own compatible designs. AMD claimed they had the legal right to do this because Intel had licensed them (AMD) to make earlier chips (286s, I believe). AMD won the case, but I don't remember all the details. This was in 1991 (if you look at AMD's stock performance, their lowest dip was when the lawsuit was going on; it bounced back up nicely afterwards).

IMHO the Pentium is well nigh due for a renaming. But because the name Pentium has such great name recognition, it's not going to happen. We'll be looking at a new name once IA-64 (Itanium, formerly Merced, is still the current working name, I believe) comes out next year.

Wolfman wrote:
Quote:
And the Pentium II was also a 686
Actually, if anything was a 686, it would have been the Pentium Pro, which is the architectural ancestor of the Pentium II, III and Celeron.
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Old 10-31-2000, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by GaryM
[B]I had a Kaypro for a while. Not a bad computer either. When I transported it, folks thought I was carrying a sewing machine!
I remember those, we called it the Darth Vader lunchbox. They came before Compaq but instead of beige plastic it was charcoal gray and black aluminum. Was yours a CP/M? Most of what I worked with was DOS but cut my programming teeth on dBase II on a Kaypro 10. They were solid little machines but the PC compatible portables were a nightmare to work on.
Old 10-31-2000, 02:57 PM
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And don't forget the 8085. I worked with one briefly, and remember nothing about it, other than it predated the 8086.
Old 10-31-2000, 03:44 PM
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I agree with frogstein- Pentium Pro, II, III and Celeron would all be 686 derivatives. If you have Windows NT, in the System Control Panel under the 'General' tab it should say something like:

x86 Family 6 Model 8 Stepping 3

Family 6 == 686, Model 8 (mine) is a Pentium III, and Stepping 3 probably is just a revision, maybe bug fixes.

I'm not sure if the Pentium IV is considered Family 6 still, haven't seen one yet.
Old 10-31-2000, 04:16 PM
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late, as usual, but here's what I can add...

After Intel stopped with the numbering of their CPUs, Cyrix came along and decided to capitalize on the popularity that the numbering carried with it. They made a chip, which they called the 5x86, then after that, the 6x86. Since the numbers couldn't be trademarked, Intel didn't really have a say in the matter.

As for what AT, XT, and ATX actually stand for, I'm not sure if they really have a meaning. Those names are often found in other areas of computing as well, like with modem initialization strings and keyboard form factors. So, I'm assuming, Intel and IBM just arbitrarily chose those names to represent their PCs.
Old 10-31-2000, 06:01 PM
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Anyone want to guess why the computer store clerk said [at the time] the fastest Pentium processor they have in stock was a '667' hz?
Old 10-31-2000, 09:52 PM
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raoulortega wrote:
Quote:
And don't forget the 8085. I worked with one briefly, and remember nothing about it, other than it predated the 8086.
It was an 8-bit processor, very similar to the 8080.
Old 10-31-2000, 10:20 PM
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Re: late, as usual, but here's what I can add...

Quote:
Originally posted by vandal

As for what AT, XT, and ATX actually stand for, I'm not sure if they really have a meaning. Those names are often found in other areas of computing as well, like with modem initialization strings and keyboard form factors. So, I'm assuming, Intel and IBM just arbitrarily chose those names to represent their PCs.
The AT in modem strings stands for "ATtention". It prefixes every modem command in the Hayes command protocol. I don't think it's related to the AT PC type, especially since the modem AT prefix predates the AT PC.

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Old 10-31-2000, 10:51 PM
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Padeye, IIRC the 486SX (at least in some incarnations) was just a regular 486 with a defect in the floating-point unit. Rather than tossing the chip, they could intentionally burn out a few traces and disable the FPU, giving an integer-only 486SX. Then they did the same kind of thing with the chips that had a defect on the CPU side, and sold those as FPUs to upgrade the SX's.

And since we're mentioning the 8080 and 8086, does anybody remember the DEC Rainbow? It had an 8080 (or 8085?) to run CP/M and an 8086 for DOS, depending which you picked from the boot menu. It also had a VT100 terminal mode. You could get hi-res graphics (maybe 512-by-something) in four shades of green (or orange, if you had that kind of monitor). There were a few other dual-processor machines available at that time, but I think none so cool.
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