Updated: 11/13/2018 by Computer Hope

ISA may refer to any of the following:

1. Short for Industry Standard Architecture, ISA was introduced by IBM and headed by Mark Dean. ISA was originally an 8-bit computer bus that was later expanded to a 16-bit bus in 1984. When this bus was originally released, it was a proprietary bus, which allowed only IBM to create peripherals and the actual interface. However, in the early 1980's other manufacturers were creating the bus.

In 1993, Intel and Microsoft introduced a PnP ISA bus that allowed the computer to automatically detect and setup computer ISA peripherals, such as a modem or sound card. Using the PnP technology, an end-user would have the capability of connecting a device and not having to configure the device using jumpers or dip switches.

All modern computers today no longer included the ISA slots and instead are using more PCI, AGP, and other slots. Below is a graphic of what an ISA expansion card may look like as well as the slot it connects into on the motherboard.

ISA SCSI computer card

Computer ISA expansion slot

How can I add an ISA card if I don't have an ISA slot?

To connect an ISA card to a computer the motherboard must have an ISA slot. As mentioned above, today's computers no longer come with ISA expansion slots and most modern operating systems no longer support ISA. If your motherboard does not have an ISA expansion slot, we recommend getting a more modern card that your motherboard supports.

2. Short for instruction set architecture, see our instruction set definition for further information on this term.

16-bit, Bus, Computer acronyms, EISA, Expansion slot, Hardware terms, MCA, Motherboard terms