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— “November 25, 2021”

Dr Sophie Wilson CBE is one of the most important people in computer history, with a list of achievements as long as your arm. Her influence is such that you are probably this article on a device containing some of it: alongside Steve Furber, she designed the first ARM processor at Acorn, the chips that now run almost every mobile phone and tablet there is.

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In the above video posted by the Cambridge Computer Lab Dr Wilson talks about her upbringing, what led her into computer science, and specifically in this video the creation of the BBC Micro computer. She’s now a research fellow at Broadcom, where she designs microprocessors.

It’s full of interesting stuff and a particular delight is her recall of childhood in a house “where my parents had made virtually everything”, and how her parents tackled whatever challenges life brought: By building more stuff.

It’s a remarkable story and the video then moves onto Eben Upton, also an alumni of the University of Cambridge’s Computer Lab, and the designer of the Raspberry Pi, who discusses how the BBC Micro impacted his life, and the aspects of it that carried over into the philosophies of Raspberry Pi. Upton’s focus on the practical side of the device, the requirement that kids “could put it in and take it out of their bag a thousand times”, is the kind of design thinking that would lead the Pi into all sorts of unforeseen places.

It’s a very nice video anyway, and if you haven’t come across Dr Wilson’s history before it’s the perfect introduction to a remarkable person’s work, which sits beneath huge amounts of the technology we use today. If all the Black Friday deals are getting you down then make a cuppa, sit back, relax and learn. The discounts can wait.

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