This Acorn Did Fall Far From The Tree
You generally shouldn’t compare Acorns to Apples, unless you are Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson whom have spent 35 years successfully proving their ability to excel at doing exactly that. The story of the development of ARM is an impressive one, including an engineer capable of mentally visualizing instruction sets which was key in the quick and relatively inexpensive birth of Acorn and ARM. The original Acorn microcomputer enjoyed a few years of success, but development continued and in 1983 they released a new 32 bit RISC processor which rqeuired a mere 808 lines of code to function.
Their reputation for low power draw was also cemented at this time, during the initial testing of the original ARM1 the processor would start up and run off of the I/O interface; not even bothering to wait for it’s own power supply to be connected. At this time the ARM1 was a co-processor in Acorn machines, though it was also more capable than Intel’s 80286 as it drew far less power but was still capable of between three to eight MIPs. After a few years Apple took notice of their English competition and started to sniff around Acorn which lead to them splitting off their R&D organization and the birth of a separate entity called Advanced RISC Machines, back in November of 1990 and eventually the Apple Newton.
The Newton is perhaps best forgotten, but it did lead ARM down the mobile path which they remain on until this day. Unlike the Newton, the ARM powered Nokia 6110 is widely remembered, fondly by most, and showed the market the versatility of ARM processors. From those beginnings came the Cortex processors which are now found in almost any type of device you can think of, including servers and even Intel processors!
Take a wander down memory lane with The Register and consider raising one in honour of ARM later tonight.
"At 1pm on April 26th 1985," recalled Prof Steve Furber, "the first ARM microprocessors arrived back from the manufacturer – VTI [VLSI Technology, Inc]. They were put straight into the development system which was fired up with a tweak or two and, at 3 pm, the screen displayed: 'Hello World, I am ARM'.