Chapter 1

The History of ARM

WHAT’S IN THIS CHAPTER?

  • The beginnings of Acorn
  • How Acorn became ARM
  • ARM naming conventions
  • ARM processor architecture

In the late 1970s, the computer industry was going through a period of huge change and substantial growth. Up until that time, computers were the size of a room and took dozens of people to operate. The ENIAC weighed 30 tons, took up a surface of 1,800 square feet (167 square meters), and required 150 kilowatts of energy. Huge technological advances were being made, and people started talking about the possibility of creating a computer that didn’t weigh more than 2 tons. Then, the transistor revolution happened. Suddenly, all the power held in a room full of electronics (some would say electrics) could be put into a single microchip, just a few centimeters squared. Businesses could afford to have multiple systems; schools bought computers for research and education; and even families could finally enjoy personal computing. The 1970s saw the birth of some of the major players in computers: Apple Computer, Atari, Commodore, and Acorn, to name but a few. It would take only a few years to see some of the mythical names in personal computing: The Amiga, the Atari ST, and the Commodore 64, for example — gift-giving hasn’t been the same since.

THE ORIGIN OF ARM

In late 1978, Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry founded Acorn Computers, Ltd. in Cambridge, UK. Initially working as a consultancy group, Hauser and Curry obtained a contract from Ace ...

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