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[email protected]: The Great British chip invention
This article is part of the Computer Weekly issue of 22 September 2016
On 21 June 1948, the world’s first stored-program computer ran its first program. The Manchester Baby eventually evolved into the Ferranti Mark I. Acorn used semi-custom chips from Ferranti in the design of the BBC microcomputer, which gave the home computer company the skills and tooling it would later need in the design of its own microprocessor, a device infinitely smaller than the Baby. One of the hallmarks of the British chip industry was the relatively small size of the UK players compared with the global semiconductor giants. An example is Inmos, a semiconductor company based in Bristol, which developed an innovative microcomputer called the Transputer. The first system on a chip According to Transputer chief designer David May, Inmos was a full-scale semiconductor-manufacturing organisation. “[It was] part of industrial policy of the then Labour government – through the National Enterprise Board – to revitalise industry,” he says, referring to the £50m grant Inmos was given to start up a UK semiconductor industry. The ...
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Features in this issue
Launched in 1966 as part of a modernising wave to change British society, Computer Weekly battled for the nation’s industry against the US, and saw IT as an entry ticket to the Common Market
We examine how the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s became an age of great innovation for the British computer industry
Computer Weekly’s journey through 50 years of innovation in technology continues with a look back at the history of the internet and the huge changes it has brought to society
There is a link between the world’s first working computer and the world’s most successful chip: they are both British
From working in statistics departments to becoming a key part of any business transformation – as Computer Weekly gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we look back at the changing role of IT leaders
As Computer Weekly prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary this September, we take a look at how government IT has changed over the years