Project 365 #263: 200910 ARM In Arm

Project 365 #263: 200910 ARM In Arm
business desktop computer
Image by comedy_nose
It’s late again, so it’s a desktop composition for you. You were going to get the moon, but I left my tripod in work. Doh!

I was watching an episode of ‘Click’, the BBC News technology programme, and they were running a feature on ARM chips. Then in the corner of my eye I spotted my ‘ARM Powered’ mug on my desk.

Where to start with the back story? In my student years, I was a RISCOS user. I loved it then, and I still do. It’s the most flexible and intuitive operating environment I’ve ever used, as well as one of the leanest. Quite superb. It ran on Acorn’s 32 bit RISC processors, and they were little gems. Super cool, super efficient and super low power, but unfortunately nobody cared. We had lots of power, and didn’t care if we used 0.3, 3, 30, or 300W in our CPUs.

Then mobile phones happened.

Well, the story goes on…Acorn float ARM as a separate company in a co venture with Apple and VLSI. ARM becomes ARM Holdings and they develop the business model of licensing the intellectual property of their designs for other people to build.

The result is that ARM chips are now everywhere. Even in things that you don’t realise have computers in them. I was able to sweep the gadgets on my desk with no effort, and straight away found four ARM powered devices.

The mug is of early nineties vintage. Acorn had just launched ARM and were trying to build up some brand recognition, so they ripped off the ‘Intel Inside’ campaign and started putting ARM powered labels on things. It didn’t last, and in truth it didn’t need to. ARM, whilst still headquartered in Cambridge, is a global concern and eye wateringly profitable. And still, nobody knows who they are.