What Is 16 Bit Hardware and Software?

16 bit is equal to 2 bytes and 4 nibbles but this is not the case. 16-bit is generally used to define some hardware of software which is capable of working with the 16-bit processor, memory, software, etc. In the 1980s and 1990s, the IT systems were 16bit from the hardware and software but with the development of 32 and 64-bit hardware and software, they are obsolete.

16 Bit Hardware

With the development of the IBM PC, Intel processors have gained popularity. Intel CPU’s 8088 and 80286 which are used in PC’s were in 16-bit architecture. 16-bit hardware simply means the use of 16-bit memory bus and address but which is about 64KB of memory. As it may seem very little memory size but in those days applications were 16 bit too which lowers the memory requirement very low. Here are some 16-bit hardware like CPU, PCs

  • System/7
  • Series/1
  • Intel 8086 and 8088
  • Intel 80186 and 80188
  • Intel 80286
  • Zilog Z8000
Intel 8086
Intel 8086

16 Bit Operating System

We have learned the 16-bit hardware but if we want to use 16-bit hardware we need some operating system which is also 16 bit. We can not use the 32-bit operating system on 16-bit hardware. IBM PC compatible and Wintel which means Windows+Intel operating system is designed to be 16 bit. Ms-DOS, OS/2 1.x or early versions of Microsoft Windows can run on 16-bit CPU and hardware like Intel 8088 and 80286.

16 Bit Software

16 bit operating systems provides 16-bit applications like games, tools, Scandisk, etc. But Windows 95 is a 32-bit operating system which provides 16-bit applications for backward compatibility. Here are some of the 16bit applications provided with the 32 bit Windows 95.

  • FreeCell
  • Solitaire
  • Chat
  • Clipboard
  • Dialer
  • ScanDisk
  • Program Manager
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