Ruminations on the electronics industry from David Manners, Senior Components Editor on Electronics Weekly.
Father Of The Cambridge Phenomenon
Sir Clive Sinclair is the father of the Cambridge start-up phenomenon.
In common with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Sinclair found formal education tiresome.
“I got fed up with school and didn’t want to go university,” says Sinclair, “I was educated up to ‘A’ level standard and after that, I educated myself.”
“I was very good at maths and physics at school, and I was able to teach myself very rapidly. I found I could teach myself much faster than I could be taught. Because I was interested in it, learning was very easy.”
Sinclair was at school in the 1950s, left school at 17 and got a job at a publishing company. “I wrote loads of books. I didn’t have to write the books myself, but it was quicker and more fun than finding authors to write them. They were for hobbyists – nothing terribly sophisticated,” recalls Sinclair.
The books were mainly about the use of transistors.
Although invented in 1947, the transistor was regarded by many engineers in the 1950s as a new-fangled device. It was hobbyists, excited by the new technology’s promise, who were keen to know as much as possible about transistors and who were avid readers of books explaining how to use them.
In 1962, Sinclair left publishing and started life as a professional inventor – a childhood dream – fostered at the age of 6 by a radio programme called Toytown about a fictional inventor.
In 1967, Sinclair moved to Cambridge. After a string of inventions from TVs to calculators he hit the big-time with the Spectrum computer which, in the 1980s, briefly became the largest selling computer in the USA.
In 1978, Sinclair’s chief salesman, Chris Curry, went off to co-found Acorn with Hermann Hauser.
Out of Acorn came ARM, Virata, Element 14, CSR, Pace and a host of other entrepreneurial companies and the Cambridge Phenomenon was in full swing.
Tags: cambridge phenomenon, childhood dream, professional inventor, steve jobs, transistors