From Cambridge Processor to Acorn to Arm, 40 years ago today 5 December, 1978 #VintageComputing #Acorn @ARM

Acorn Computer BBC

On this day in 1978, a small company was born called Cambridge Processor Unit Ltd. (CPU), which a number of days later formed Acorn Computer, Ltd (Acorn). The units were established by Clive Sinclair and Hermann Hauser.

The company grew, and developed the famous BBC micro by December 1981. The company became Acorn Computer Group in 1983. Looking for their own processor to compete with the 6502 (in Apple, Commodore, etc.), they worked with VLSI Technology, Inc. to develop their first RISC chip, the ARM1 (ARM standing for Acorn RISC Machine).

Principal creators of the BBC micro in 2008, some 26 years after its release
Principal creators of the BBC micro in 2008, some 26 years after its release, source: Wikipedia from Jem Stone from Chailey – BBC Micro CC BY 2.0

Advanced RISC Machines Ltd was founded in November 1990 and structured as a joint venture between Acorn Computers, Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) and VLSI Technology. They developed successful RISC chip designs to license for manufacture.

And Arm Holdings today has become the largest developer and technical intellectual property distributor in the world as nearly all phones and tablets as well as microcontrollers use Arm chips at their heart.

Happy 40th Birthday CPU/Acorn, and thank you for your vision and your contributions to science and our daily lives.

For more information, see Wikipedia:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — Chip inventories rise as demand falls

Wearables — Go insane with a membrane (button or keypad)

Electronics — Shift away from basic arithmetic

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: CircuitPython 8.0 RC 1 Out, Board Guides, and Much More! #CircuitPython #Python @ThePSF @micropython @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Cat Doorbell, Deep Algae Bloom Detector, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — New Products 2/1/2023 Featuring Adafruit Floppy FeatherWing with 34-Pin IDC Connector! (Video)

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

1 Comment

  1. Cambridge Processor Unit was set up by Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry, not Clive Sinclair.

    Curry had worked for Sinclair Radionics and Science of Cambridge:

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.