Professor Steve Furber
The University of Manchester, Department of Computer Science
Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng is ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. After completing a BA in mathematics at the University of Cambridge (1971-74) he took Part III maths (1974-5), for which Cambridge eventually awarded him an MMath in 2010. He then took a PhD in aerodynamics (1975-78) also at Cambridge, and was Rolls-Royce Research Fellow in aerodynamics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, from 1978-81. During his PhD and Research Fellowship he grew increasingly interested in computing, first through the Cambridge University Processor Group, a student society whose members built computers for fun, building machines to instrument his aerodynamics experiments (and on which to write his PhD thesis), and then through a growing connection with the embryonic Acorn Computers Ltd. He joined Acorn Computers in 1981, where he was a principal designer of the BBC Microcomputer, which introduced computing into most UK schools, and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. Over 130 billion variants of the ARM processor have since been manufactured, powering much of the world's mobile and embedded computing. He moved to the ICL Chair at Manchester in 1990 where he leads research into asynchronous and low-power systems and, more recently, neural systems engineering, where the SpiNNaker project has delivered a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for brain modelling applications. SpiNNaker is openly available under the auspices of the European Human Brain Project.
“I became involved in computers first as a hobby, and while computing ultimately became my career, I have never lost my hobbyist enthusiasm for building machines - machines of incredible complexity and unbelievable operational speed, designed from abstract concepts on other machines, yet they work exactly as expected. You can do this too!”