How Acorn Ended Up With It’s ARM In Everything


Behind Every Great Technology Is A Great Woman

It is currently estimated that there are about 100 billion ARM-based chips operating in the world right now, not quite enough to give every ant one, but ARM is certainly the most ubiquitous high tech device going.  It’s beginnings didn’t hint at the overwhelming success of the ARM architecture; a small company called Acorn was called up by the BBC in 1982 to produce a computer that would demonstrate what exactly these new fangled CPUs actually were, for a show called “The Computer Programme”.  The BBC turned out to have a small problem, the capabilities of the computer they wanted as a demonstration unit outstripped what current products from Sinclair and others were able to do.  

That didn’t stop Acorn from developing the Acorn RISC Machine for the program, nor from growing exponentially once they had started manufacturing products afterwards.  The release of new ARM processors never generates the same buzz as a new Intel or AMD architecture, but if anything it they are more important.  After all, you can be guaranteed there were ARM processors used to design and produce those CPUs.

Ars Technica is delving into the history of ARM, and some of the people, like Sophie Wilson, who were behind the design of the original ARM processor and it’s successors.  Their first article in the series is posted here; be smarter than Intel and don’t ignore them.



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