Steve Vickers (computer scientist)

Steve Vickers

Steve Vickers sitting next to a flatscreen television which is connected to a Jupiter ACE.

Steve Vickers with a Jupiter ACE
Residence Birmingham
Citizenship United Kingdom
Fields Computer Science
Institutions Imperial College London
The Open University
University of Birmingham
Alma mater University of Cambridge
University of Leeds
Thesis Universal strongly regular rings (1979)
Doctoral advisor Alfred Goldie
Known for Topology via Logic
ZX Spectrum ROM firmware

Steve Vickers (born c. 1953[1]) is a British mathematician and computer scientist. In the early 1980s, he wrote ROM firmware and manuals for three home computers, the Sinclair ZX81 and ZX Spectrum and the Jupiter Ace.[2][3] The latter was produced by Jupiter Cantab, a short-lived company Vickers formed together with Richard Altwasser, after the two had left Sinclair Research. Since the late 1980s, Vickers has been an academic in the field of geometric logic, writing over 30 papers in scholarly journals on mathematical aspects of computer science. His book Topology via Logic has been influential over a range of fields (extending even to theoretical physics, where Christopher Isham of Imperial College London has cited Vickers as an early influence on his work on topoi and quantum gravity[4]). He is currently a Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham.


Vickers graduated from King's College, Cambridge with a degree in mathematics and completed a PhD at Leeds University, also in mathematics.

Sinclair Research

In 1980 he started working for Nine Tiles, which had previously written the Sinclair BASIC for the ZX80. He was responsible for the adaptation of the 4K ZX80 ROM into the 8K ROM used in the ZX81 and also wrote the ZX81 manual. He then wrote most of the ZX Spectrum ROM, and assisted with the user documentation.

Vickers left in 1982 to form "Rainbow Computing Co." with Richard Altwasser. The company became Jupiter Cantab and they were together responsible for the development of the commercially unsuccessful Jupiter ACE, a competitor to the similar Sinclair ZX Spectrum.


Originally at the Department of Computing at Imperial College London, Steve Vickers later joined the Department of Pure Mathematics at the Open University before moving to the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer and the Research Student Tutor of the School of Computer Science.


Vickers' main interest lies within geometric logic. His book Topology via Logic introduces topology from the point of view of some computational insights developed by Samson Abramsky and Mike Smyth. It stresses the point-free approach and can be understood as dealing with theories in the so-called geometric logic, which was already known from topos theory and is a more stringent form of intuitionistic logic. However, the book was written in the language of classical mathematics.

Extending the ideas to toposes (as generalised spaces) he found himself channelled into constructive mathematics in a geometric form and in Topical Categories of Domains he set out a geometrisation programme of, where possible, using this geometric mathematics as a tool for treating point-free spaces (and toposes) as though they had "enough points". Much of his subsequent work has been in case studies to show that, with suitable techniques, it was indeed possible to do useful mathematics geometrically. In particular, a notion of "geometric transformation of points to spaces" gives a natural fibrewise treatment of topological bundles. A recent project of his has been to connect this with the topos approaches to physics as developed by Chris Isham and others (see Doering and Isham's What is a Thing? Topos Theory in the Foundations of Physics) at Imperial College, and Klaas Landsman's group at Radboud University Nijmegen (see Heunen, Landsman and Spitters' A Topos for Algebraic Quantum Theory).



  1. Vickers's age was given as 29 in a Sinclair User article from July 1982., accessed 5 October 2013.
  2. Laing, Gordon (7 September 2004). Digital retro. Sybex. Retrieved 9 June 2011. The ROM size was doubled again...with Steve Vickers writing the lion's share
  3. "(article title missing)". Byte, Volume 8, Number 8. 1983. p. 43. Retrieved 9 June 2011. Steve Vickers and Richard Altwasser, who designed the Ace, were the codesigners of the Spectrum and are now ...
  4. Youtube video, Chris Isham: "Topos theory in the formulation of theories of physics" about 1 minute in.
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