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X86 denotes a family of instruction set architectures based on the intel 8086 cpu. the 8086 was introduced in 1978 as a fully 16-bit extension of intel's 8-bit based 8080 microprocessor and also introduced memory segmentation to overcome the 16-bit addressing barrier of such designs. the term x86 derived from the fact that early successors to the 8086 also had names ending with "86".