New Scientist and the British-based Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) announced the computer was the winner of their "Big Impact Poll."
EPSRC nominated ten physical science and technology discoveries for inclusion in the poll including the microprocessor, the World Wide Web, the Mobile Phone, Lasers or Green Chemistry.
Members of the public were asked to vote for their favorite discovery of the last 50 years and were able to either select one of the 10 suggested discoveries or to propose their own answer.
The microprocessor has been key to modern humans' ability to manage, control and compute data. It has made the modern idea of compact computing possible and given birth to a world of futuristic, low-cost computers - which are increasingly becoming a part of our everyday lives.
The results of the "Big Impact Poll" were announced on December 2.
The Big Impact Poll results:
1. The microprocessor (48%)
2. The world wide web (31%)
3. Other answer...(6%)
4. Space exploration (3% )
5. The mobile phone (3%)
6. The global optical fibre network (3%)
7. Lasers (2%)
8. Magnetic resonance imaging (1%)
9. Error correcting codes (1%)
10. Green chemistry (1%)
11. Public key encryption (0%)
The Big Impact Poll was launched as a joint initiative between EPSRC, New Scientist and ImpactWorld to mark the unveiling of a new science and technology themed website, http://www.impactworld.org.uk.