68000 Assembly/Who used the 68k series?

The Motorola 68K series of microprocessors was used by many manufacturers:

  • Apple in their Macintosh computers until they switched to the PowerPC series of microprocessors, and in their LaserWriter printers until they switched to the AMD 29000 series of microprocessors.
  • The Commodore Amiga
  • Sun, HP, SGI and other 80s Unix workstations before their switch to RISC processors like SPARC, PA-RISC and MIPS.
  • Atari ST/STE/TT/Falcon line of personal computers.
  • Sinclair for the Sinclair QL (which was also re-badged as the ICL one-per-desk).
  • NeXT before they became a software-only company.
  • The Sharp X68000 series of personal computers.
  • Palm in their handheld PDAs until they switched to the ARM series of microprocessors. Almost all applications run in emulated 68K mode, however.
  • The 680x0 was popular in arcade machines until the middle of the 1990s. It can be found in many Capcom games.
  • The Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in the U.S.) used a 68000 as the main processor. The successor, SEGA Saturn, used one as a sound processor.
  • The Sequential Circuits Prophet VS, Ensoniq EPS, and several other synthesizers used the 68000 in the late 80's.
  • The Atari Jaguar had a 68000 as the central CPU among many dedicated processors.
  • The Texas Instruments Calculators TI-89, TI-92, Voyage 200 and TI-89 Titanium.
  • Tandy/Radio Shack in their TRS-80 Model 16 1982, 16B 1983 and Tandy 6000 1984, running Xenix OS 2.0 1981 and 3.0 1982 licensed from Microsoft, which are licensed variants of AT&T's UNIX OS 7th Edition 1979 and System III 1981 respectively.
  • Many embedded computer systems use 68K family microprocessors, often running real-time operating systems.

One thing to note is that the PowerPC is not binary compatible with the 68K processor. Their assembly languages are completely different. However, Apple has written an emulator (in PowerPC assembly language) which allows PowerPC microprocessors to interpret machine language code written for 68K microprocessors, albeit with a substantial performance decrease versus native PowerPC machine language.

The Motorola 68K is a CISC-based CPU that operates on memory organized in a Big-Endian fashion.

68k Usage Gallery edit