Baroness Margaret Thatcher RIP: The Iron Lady’s IT Industry Legacy

The Register’s Gavin Clarke notes that Baroness Margaret Thatcher, the former British prime minister who died Monday at age 87, worked alongside the world’s first business computer and privatised the UK’s phone network, and her deregulation policies had liberating effects on the development and availability of technology. Clark says Mrs. Thatcher’s 1981 British Telecommunications Act put the country’s phone network firmly on the road to privatisation, leading to the availability of better technology and services thanks to private-sector competition in lines, phones and other products.

He also observes that it was Thatcher’s love for the private sector that also injected a dose of entrepreneurial spirit into Blighty’s arm: her belief that anyone could achieve anything with the right idea at the right time appealed to many, and than Britain’s fledging computer hardware and software makers Acorn, Sage, Sinclair and Amstrad hit their stride in the 1980s during Thatcher’s 11 1/2 year tenure in office – the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th Century. The biggest British IT technology success to emerge from the Thatcher era was the ARM team that sprang from pioneer Acorn, their low-power RISC processor design being today the planet’s most popular embedded processor architecture that powers multi-millions of iPhones, iPads, and most other brand smartphones and tablets.

Margaret Thatcher herself had a science background, albeit in chemistry and not computer engineering. Among her vast array of life accomplishments was her membership of the team that invented soft-serve ice cream.

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