Sophie Wilson is one of the key figures who revolutionized microprocessor technology. She co-developed the ARM processor that might be living inside your smartphones, tablets, computers, WiFi devices, or even the ABS in cars, etc.
The success of this processor could be attributed to the fact that her company has shipped more than 160 billion ARM-based chips to date.
Though the story is four decades old, it still doesn’t fail to amaze the technology enthusiasts. Sophie was recruited to Acorn while she was still studying Computer Science at Cambridge University. While working at Acorn Sophie along with Steve Furber, she designed and implemented a prototype of the BBC Microcomputer within a week’s time. Their effort helped Acorn to bag the contract for the Computer Literacy Project from BBC. Sophie also designed the operating system as well as wrote and executed BBC BASIC for a succession of processors.
The processor (First Arm Processor) they developed excelled in energy-efficiency as it needed fewer transistors than other designs – making it ideal for mobile devices. The current day processor is 10000 times smaller than the first one according to Sophie herself.
The processor was a smash hit so much so that a generation of British schoolchildren grew up with Microcomputers (BBC Microcomputers) she designed in their classroom.
Thereafter, Sophie along with 6 other partners founded a new start-up company Element 14 in 1999 based on a SIMD LIW processor known as FirePath. Their idea was to use FirePath in the ADSL wired broadband market.
Element 14 was later acquired by Broadcom in 2000. Currently, the Firepath processor is being sold by Broadcom for DSL and other applications. Sophie is presently working at Broadcom and has continuously been working on new ideas to make the microprocessor technology better.
Here is a lecture she gave on the future of microprocessors:
She also is an honorary fellow of the Computer History Museum and was a finalist in the 2013 European Inventor of the Year in the lifetime achievement category. Below is a list of honors and awards Wilson has received. Followed by it is a quick snapshot of her patent portfolio
Honors and Awards
- A Fellow of the Royal Society,
- A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering,
- A Fellow of the British Computer Society,
- A Fellow of the Women’s Engineering Society,
- An honorary Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge
- An honorary Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)
- Ms. Wilson has an honorary doctorate of science from Cambridge University and a CBE
Sophie Wilson’s Patent Portfolio
Sophie Wilson’s patent portfolio has 80 patents that belong to 20 unique patent families. The below exhibits highlight the key statistics of her patent portfolio.
Legal Status (Alive/Dead) of Sophie Wilson’s Patents
The exhibits below distribute Sophie Wilson’s patents into active and inactive categories which are further divided into total, application, and granted parts.
Country-wise distribution of Sophie Wilson’s Patents
The patent count in the exhibit below is calculated by including each family member of a patent family. A patent family can have multiple patent documents – filed globally or in a single country – covering a single invention.
An Interesting Patent
One patent that stands out in Sophie Wilson’s portfolio is US6530012B1. It has been cited 52 times by companies Intel, Broadcom Inc., and Marvell Technology Group. The patent has family members in countries like United States, Australia, Germany, and Austria.
If a patent is cited by a lot of other patents, it implies that the technology is being followed and incrementally innovated. This indicates the importance of a patent. Furthermore, it also indicates that citing companies are working on similar or closely related technologies.