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The Z80 CPU is an 8-bit based microprocessor. It was introduced by Zilog in 1976 as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his then 11 employee Zilog from early 1975 until March 1976, when the first fully working samples were delivered. With the revenue from the Z80, the company could then build its own chip factories and grow to over a thousand employees over the following two years.

Zilog Z80
Zilog Z80.jpg
An early Z80 microprocessor, manufactured in June 1976 according to the date stamp.
Produced From March 1976 to present
Common manufacturer(s)
Max. CPU clock rate 2.5 MHz to 8 MHz with CMOS variant up to 20 MHz
A May 1976 advertisement for the Zilog Z-80 8-bit microprocessor

The Z80 CPU is an 8-bit based microprocessor. It was introduced by Zilog in 1976 as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his then 11 employee Zilog from early 1975 until March 1976, when the first fully working samples were delivered. With the revenue from the Z80, the company could then build its own chip factories and grow to over a thousand employees over the following two years.

The Zilog Z80 was a software compatible extension and enhancement of the Intel 8080 and, like it, was mainly aimed at embedded systems. According to the designers, the primary targets for the Z80 CPU (and its optional support and peripheral ICs) were products like intelligent terminals, high end printers and advanced cash registers as well as telecom equipment, industrial robots and other kinds of automation equipment.

The Z80 was officially introduced on the market in July 1976 and came to be widely used also in general desktop computers using CP/M and other operating systems as well as in the home computers of the 1980s. It was also common in military applications, musical equipment, such as synthesizers, and in the computerized coin operated video games of the late 1970s and early 1980, the arcade machines or video game arcade cabinets.

In the early 1980s, the Z80 was the most commonly used CPU of all time, and, along with the MOS Technology 6502 family, dominated the home computer market from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s.

Zilog licensed the Z80 to the US based Synertek and Mostek, that had helped them with initial production, as well as to a Europan second source manufacturer, SGS. The design was copied also by several Japanese, East European and Russian manufacturers. This enabled the Z80 to gain acceptance in the world market since large companies like NEC, Toshiba, Sharp, and Hitachi, started to manufacture the device (or their own Z80 compatible designs). In recent decades Zilog has refocused on the ever-growing market for embedded systems (for which the original Z80 and the Z180 were designed) and the most recent Z80-compatible microcontroller family, the fully pipelined 24-bit eZ80 with a linear 16 MB address range, has been successfully introduced alongside the simpler Z180 and Z80 products.

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