Sophie Wilson

By Iyanuoluwa Adenle | Jun 4, 2022

Sophie Wilson was born in 1957 in Leeds, England. She is a British computer scientist. She studied computer science and mathematics at Cambridge University. Wilson contributed to the architectural design of the Acom System 1, an early 8-bit computer for hobbyists which later became the BBC Micro in the UK. when she worked for Acorn Computers in the early days of her career.

At Acorn, she and her colleague, Steve Furber, designed and implemented the first prototype of the BBC Microcomputer, the 32-bit RISC Machine processor, in less than a week. Wilson worked on the designing the operating system, writing Acom Assembler, Acorn MOS and BASIC for the prototype and implementing. This was used in the BBC Micro as a second processor in 1986; Acorn's first general-purpose home computer based on their own ARM architecture, the Archimedes (1987); and Apple Computer's first personal digital assistant, the Newton in 1993.


Wilson led the development and programming of the BBC Micro into BBC BASIC. She wrote the manuals and technical specifications necessary for the success of these designs. In 1983, Wilson started to design the instruction set for one of the first RISC processors (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) which, after several modifications, became one of the most successful IP cores.

Wilson's work on the development of the Acorn RISC Machine (ARM) processor was a success and the ARM processor core is still used in mobile phones, tablets, digital televisions and video games. She co-designed the ARM3, ARM610, and ARM700 processors and ARM7500FE single-chip computer, created Acorn Replay multimedia software; and developed the Firepath SIMD LIW processor and then cofounded Element 14 to exploit it for ADSL. The ARM processor cores are now the most widely used processor architecture in smartphones. 

As a transwoman, Wilson has not only made signifant contributions to the invention, development, and implementation of RISC chips, but to women in the STEM community. She was a non-executive director of Eidos plc, a technology and games company. She is currently the Director of IC Design at Broadcom Inc, Cambridge, UK office.