Are interrupts needed for a computer system to work? Could you have a computer system (hardware and software, including the OS) that worked without an interrupt mechanism?

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    $\begingroup$ Short answer: no, interrupts aren't needed for a computer system to "work." But I suspect that you really meant to ask something more specific. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2014 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ Clearly, there have been plenty of computer systems in the early days which didn't have interrupts, or didn't have interrupts as we know them today. $\endgroup$
    – Pseudonym
    Sep 8, 2014 at 3:15

1 Answer 1


No, they're not needed for a computer to work. For instance, you can use polling to interact with devices, instead of interrupts, and you can use cooperative multitasking for scheduling multiple processes, rather than preemptive multitasking.

(Thank you, @Paul A. Clayton!)

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    $\begingroup$ And cooperative multitasking rather than preemptive multitasking. $\endgroup$
    – user4577
    Sep 8, 2014 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ @PaulA.Clayton, great example, thank you, I've edited my answer accordingly. $\endgroup$
    – D.W.
    Sep 8, 2014 at 15:55

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