The Intel 80286 (often called simply the 286) was a 16-bit microprocessor chip introduced in 1982. It quickly became popular in PCs (personal computers) and could be found in many machines into the 1990s. The 80286 introduced a new generation of microprocessors with memory management. It also offered more than twice as much performance per clock cycle as the 8086 or 8088.
The 80286 chip contained a 24-bit address bus, capable of accessing up to 16 MB (megabytes) of RAM (random access memory). The CPU (central processing unit) supported multitasking, allowing a user to work with more than one application at a time. In multitasking, the OS (operating system) can keep track of where you are in various applications and go from one to the other without losing information. The 80286 could also take advantage of protected mode, which helped to prevent applications from writing outside their allocated RAM zones.
In 1985, Intel introduced the successor to the 80286, the 80386 (or so-called 386), a 32-bit microprocessor.
Continue reading about the Intel 80286:
CPU World provides historical data concerning the Intel 80286 family.
Ragestorm has published a programmer's reference manual for the Intel 80286.