Feeds

ARM creators Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber

Your phone, your tablet - their chip tech

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Wilson and Furber get to work

This incompatibility was a huge problem for The Computer Programme. The BBC decided it needed its own standard machine, to be called the BBC Micro.

BBC Micro

The Acorn Proton... er... the BBC Micro

The BBC put the contract out to tender. Acorn co-founder Chris Curry jumped in ahead of Sinclair, promising the BBC that Acorn would be able to demonstrate a machine closely following the required specifications. How soon? Oh, said Curry... by the following week.

It was the wildest of wild boasts. The Proton wasn't much more than a circuit diagram at this stage. And the BBC specs called for the 8-bit processor du jour, the Zilog Z80 - the Atom, like its predecessor, was built around the 6502.

Working flat-out, Wilson and the Atom team, now joined by Furber, “sort of got the system working" attached to a circuit emulator. In theory, this would enable it to demonstrate actual programs. In practice... nothing. With time running out, Hauser instructed the team to disconnect the machine from the emulator and try running it by itself.

Acorn's BBC Micro schematics

Inside the Beeb

"He was entirely correct," said Wilson later. "It didn't seem possible at the time, but the machine burst into life."

Proton awakes

At 7am on the morning the BBC was due to arrive, the raw hardware was fully functioning. But without an operating system, there was nothing to show. Working against the clock, with only two hours in hand, Wilson ported the operating system across and installed what was to become BBC Basic. Acorn nailed the contract.

Wilson's hand was on everything inside the BBC Micro, including what was for the punter its most obvious manifestation, BBC Basic, which Wilson would maintain, develop and rewrite over the course of the next decade and a half.

Steve Furber. Source: The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Steve Furber today
Source: The Institution of Engineering and Technology

And unlike the average head-down techie, Wilson took ownership of the whole BBC Micro project. “I was one of the people who wrote all the documentation, communicating with other people, negotiating specifications."

Wilson had learnt that the art of communication was a fundamental part of the technical skill mix... ®

Part two, in which Wilson and Furber accidentally create a desktop CPU
that consumes less than a tenth of a Watt
, tomorrow...

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Space Commanders rebel as Elite:Dangerous kills offline mode
Frontier cops an epic kicking in its own forums ahead of December revival
Intel's LAME DUCK mobile chips gobbled by CASH COW
Chipzilla won't have money-losing mobe unit to kick about anymore
First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you
Black Screen of Death plagues early Google-mobe batch
Ford's B-Max: Fiesta-based runaround that goes THUNK
... when you close the slidey doors, that is ...
Disturbance in the force lets phones detect gestures with Wi-Fi
These are the movement detection devices you're looking for
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
Why CIOs should rethink endpoint data protection in the age of mobility
Assessing trends in data protection, specifically with respect to mobile devices, BYOD, and remote employees.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.