Motorola was one of the world's top CPU designers and manufacturers in the 1980s. Being somewhat late to the 16-/32-bit market provided Motorola with an advantage in gate count on the m68k family of processors. That, a clean instruction set architecture (ISA) familiar to programmers of the popular DEC PDP-11 and a wealth of general-purpose data and address registers made the architecture ideal for Unix systems from Apollo/Domain, NeXT, SGI and Sun Microsystems. The design also found its way into a number of influential personal computers (PCs) including the original Apple Lisa and Macintosh, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and Sinclair QL as well as a number of home video game consoles, video arcade platforms, printers (targeted for the original PostScript engine) and hand-held devices. Under the ColdFire name, the m68k lives on in embedded devices.
Motorola produced a replacement for the m68k CISC architecture in the late '80s in the form of the clean m88k RISC architecture. The largest m88k computer manufacturer was Data General with their AViiON series. Network Computing Devices (NCD) made a number of X-Terminals I personally used as well as a few systems from GEC Computers and the BBN Butterfly. The m88k was in development for a new NeXT computer but it wasn't released before NeXT discontinued their hardware business.
Apple was pitched the m88k series as the replacement for the m68k in parallel with the MC68060. Due to various business differences, Apple required a three-way collaboration with IBM on a single-chip implementation of IBM's Power architecture that would become the PowerPC. (One of Motorola's contributions was the latched bus architecture from the m88k.) IBM and Motorola worked together and also produced their own PowerPC designs. All mine happen to be Motorola CPUs.
This rich history was a contributing factor to my interest in the company, university research on the m88k architecture and eventually landing a career starting at Motorola. I may be a little biased.
The Motorola Computer Group designed and manufactured a variety of their own server and workstation computers using m68k, m88k and PowerPC CPUs from the Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector. I have collected a few of the more compact examples below:
Motorola CPUs in the museum integrated by other computer manufacturers include the following organized under their respective companies:
- MC68040s in NeXT computers
- m68k and PowerPC CPUs in Apple and clone computers
- MC88100s in Data General AViiON workstations and servers
Unfortunately I never managed to acquire one of the IBM RS/6000 PowerPCs or any of the 64-bit PowerPCs.