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John Sculley on the Newton, ARM, and the Birth of Mobile Computing (video)

Lots of people like to heckle Apple for copying others ideas like the GUI, mouse, slide-to-unlock, and more, but there are times where we have to acknowledge their contributions to mobile technology.

If you have a smartphone, tablet, or some other mobile device sitting on your desk right now, chances are it runs some type of ARM CPU. You have Apple to thank for that CPU.

In the following video, a former CEO of Apple talks about how Apple set out to design the Newton and ended up having to develop a completely new CPU to put in it. This is a fascinating talk about tech which we now take for granted but was so new at the time.

All this took place more than 20 years ago, and from those humble beginnings sprang a chip architecture that can now be found inside billions of servers, smartphones, embedded devices, tablets, and more from CPU manufacturers as diverse as TI, NVidia, Marvell, Samsung, Freescale, Rockchip, AllWinner, Boxchip, and more.

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monopole September 30, 2012 um 10:01 pm

Um, ARM stands for Acorn RISC Machine. Because it was invented by Acorn not Apple. Apple had a role in collaborating in later designs, years later.
If you spent a few seconds on wikipedia you would know this.

Nate Hoffelder September 30, 2012 um 10:12 pm

I did spend a few minutes with Wikipedia, and it said that Acorn was one of the investors in ARM. Yes, Acorn RISC Machine was an ealier definition for that acronym, but it was later changed to Advanced RISC Machines.

Stephen Davies October 1, 2012 um 12:07 pm


There is no doubt that the ARM processor architecture was developed at Acorn.

Nate – if you want to read a fascinating and accurate (!) explanation of the origin of ARM, here are a couple of links I found in a few minutes.


fjtorres October 1, 2012 um 1:35 pm

The problem is there is no such thing as *the* ARM architecture.
ARM is a family of CPU architectures from multiple companies that *all* contribute features and instructions.
The family *was* started by the BBC with the Acorn CPU but over the last 40 years a whole lot of companies have contributed to the communal effort.
Apple, yes. But also DEC (StrongARM), Intel (StrongARM and XScale), TI (OMAP), Samsung, Marvell, and others.
Looking back, one can plausibly argue that it was DEC with its development of StrongARM that did the most to bring ARM to its current position of mobile device dominance as it was StrongARM and its XScale follow-up (after Intel bought the DEC IP) that let ARM processors push MIPS and the Hitachi SH3/SH4 out of the mainstream gadget market.
As they say, winners have many parents and losers are orphans but no single company or nation can claim ARM’s success; it is the evolutionary product of dozens of efforts all over the world.

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