Baroness Thatcher, former prime minister of the United Kingdom, has died from a stroke, aged 87 years.
Despite receiving an M.Sc in Chemistry from Oxford University, she had relatively little to do with engineering, except by way of what some would see as her political sins of omission and commission. However, there is no doubt that her three terms as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 took the country in a radically different direction to the one it had been taking, and have therefore markedly influenced the free-wheeling but fragmented electronics landscape that exists in the U.K. today.
It was Margaret Thatcher, an incoming Conservative Party prime minister in 1979, who masterminded the dismantling of the National Enterprise Board, a U.K. government body that was set up to implement a policy of public ownership of, and investment in, industry.
One result of this was that the ownership of Inmos Ltd. -- previously a government-funded pioneer of parallel processing, was passed to Thorn EMI -- which quite frankly did not know what to do with it, apart from milking a few SRAM patents for royalties. Thorn EMI eventually passed the Inmos buck on to STMicroelectronics in 1989.
Thatcher stood well to the right of center of the political spectrum on economic matters. She took it on as an almost personal crusade to roll back the tide of state intervention that had become the accepted norm in post-war Britain up until her first term as prime minister.
As well as cutting direct taxes and government spending and privatizing state-owned industries and companies, she was also committed to reducing the power of the trade unions in the U.K. This resulted in physical violence and battles between striking coal miners and police officers at picket lines. High unemployment was the short-term consequence of her economic policies and this combination made her a figure of hate amongst some socialists and people of the far left.