Wintel

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Wintel is a portmanteau of Windows and Intel. It usually refers to a computer system or the related ecosystem based on an Intel x86 compatible processor and running the Microsoft Windows operating system. It is sometimes used derisively to describe the monopolistic actions undertaken by both companies when attempting to dominate the market.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

Contents

Background

Even more so than the minicomputer market which preceded it, the microcomputer market when it began in the late 1970s was led by a host of small companies, often startups. With the market proved by the earliest manufacturers, larger companies soon began to take a hand, sometimes successfully (Tandy, Hewlett-Packard), sometimes not (Texas Instruments, DEC). One by one, the majors in the "big iron" market—mainframe and minicomputer makers—recognised the emergent boom in the microcomputer market.

By the early 1980s, the chaos and incompatibility of the first years had given way to a smaller number of de-facto industry standards, including the S-100 bus, CP/M, the Apple II, Microsoft BASIC in ROM, and the 5.25 inch floppy drive. No single company controlled the industry, and fierce competition ensured that innovation in both hardware and software was the rule rather than the exception. Most of the software used today is directly derived from the ideas that grew out of this creative bonanza—one example is the spreadsheet, but there are countless others.

In 1981 the largest and oldest computer firm of them all, IBM, finally entered the microcomputer market. The IBM PC was created by a small subdivision of the firm. It was unusual for an IBM product because it was largely sourced from outside component suppliers and was intended to run third-party operating systems and software. IBM published the technical specifications and schematics of the PC, which allowed third party companies to produce compatible hardware, the so-called open architecture. The IBM PC became one of the most successful computers of all time.

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