Cambridge was filled with technology companies long before London’s new startup scene began to emerge.
The cluster of hardware and software companies in Cambridge has even been dubbed “Silicon Fen.”
The city is a tech hotspot because of its proximity to the science and engineering talent coming out of Cambridge University, its closeness to London, and the relative cheapness of its rents. Apple just opened a new office there, for instance.
Ninja Theory is a video game development company that works with Sony to develop games for PlayStation consoles. As its name suggests, Ninja Theory specialises in action games, often with sword-fighting elements. It uses cinematic techniques and advanced animation to make its games similar to movies in their presentation.
2007 saw the release of Heavenly Sword, a fighting game that used the same kind of motion-capture suits used in Hollywood movies. It might not have been a huge hit, but Heavenly Sword is still a cult classic, and fans continue to demand a sequel.
Sinclair Research is the company run by prolific inventor Sir Clive Sinclair.
Sinclair's first hit product was the ZX Spectrum, released in 1982. The British-made computers were a commercial success, and the company released a wave of new tech products. But Sinclair's luck didn't hold, and it was forced to start cutting prices for its product line. Eventually Sinclair's technology products were sold to British businessman Alan Sugar in 1986.
One of Sir Clive Sinclair's most famous inventions is the Sinclair C5, a bizarre one-man electric vehicle. The public hated it, and hardly anyone bought it.
The number of staff at Sinclair dwindled from 140 in the 1980s to just Sinclair himself in 1990. The inventor wasn't deterred, however, and used his savings to fund the development of new ideas. Since then, Sinclair has released an electric bike, an electric wheelchair, an electric underwater scooter, and a folding bike.
The music streaming service is one of Europe's best startup successes stories. But most people don't realise that the company has an office in Cambridge.
Spotify's Cambridge office is used as a customer support base, employing staff who work to help customers who have problems with its software. A look at Spotify's Cambridge jobs page shows that it's also hiring quality assurance managers to work out of the Cambridge office.
Cambridge-based video game development company Jagex is behind popular online game RuneScape.
First released in 2001, RuneScape allows players to explore a fantasy world and spend money on improvements to their characters. Jagex also publishes a range of games, including casual titles and more in-depth games similar to RuneScape.
Jagex has kept its head office in Cambridge, employing over 400 staff in its two studios in the city.
Darktrace is a cyber defence company that keeps businesses safe from hackers by tracking cyberattacks as they happen in real-time. It looks for unusual behaviour in company networks and sends out alerts if it detects anything untoward.
Darktrace recently gained a new CEO when it brought on veteran US tech exec Nicole Eagen, a former Oracle and Autonomy employee. She succeeds former UK spy boss Andrew France, who left in September.
Microsoft has had a presence in Cambridge since 1997 when it set up a small research centre with a handful of researchers. Now, the US tech giant runs a large office in Cambridge.
Microsoft says that it's using its office in Cambridge to research some fundamental basics of computing. The list of topics being researched includes machine learning, security, and information retrieval.
It's not just hardware companies building Cambridge's technology scene. Another important part of the local area's high-tech business are video game developers. Guerilla Cambridge is a high-profile developer working with Sony to create console games that are often used to show off the power of the PlayStation system.
Guerilla Cambridge is best known for creating the Killzone 2 and Killzone 3 futuristic shooter games, as well as the retro MediEvil series and the PSP port of LittleBigPlanet.
It's easy to dismiss CSR as just another hardware company, but its products are in demand. Like ARM, CSR produces computer chips, creating components that handle GPS, audio, and Bluetooth.
Smartphone manufacturers are big fans of CSR's technology. Samsung used to own just under 5% of the company after it acquired its mobile phone and location chip businesses for £198 million in 2012. Samsung went on to sell those shares in January 2014, making a £42.5 million profit.
The biggest event in CSR's history came in October 2014, though, when it was acquired by US chip manufacturer Qualcomm for an impressive $US2.5 billion.
Frontier Developments is a well-known British video game company that's been going strong for over 20 years.
The company officially started life when it released a new version of the Elite video game in 1993, but founder David Braben had been creating games for over a decade before that. His new video game company oversaw the series of sequels that followed the space exploration game.
But Frontier Developments didn't just churn out sequels to Elite. It also created the popular RollerCoaster Tycoon games, which see the player managing a theme park.
The most recent game to be released by the studio is Elite: Dangerous, a modern sequel to the original 1984 Elite game, complete with up-to-date graphics and multiplayer gameplay.
Featurespace is known around Cambridge as 'the new Autonomy.' It uses something called adaptive behavioural analytics to look at what's happening on a website, and predict what will happen next.
One of the biggest uses for Featurespace is detecting fraud. CEO Martina King, who used to head up Yahoo's presence in Europe, says that gambling site Betfair uses Featurespace technology to spot fraud. In December 2014, Featurespace announced that it was working with accounting company KPMG to help financial services companies detect fraudulent behaviour.
Amazon is using Cambridge as a testing ground for its experimental new drone delivery service. The US company is developing Prime Air in Cambridge, advertising for flight engineers and research scientists to help develop the fleet of drones.
Not everyone in Cambridge is happy about Amazon's presence there, though. A local resident expressed his concern over drone testing in the area, calling it 'barking mad,' worrying that local youths would throw turnips at the unmanned devices.
Apple arrived in Cambridge at the end of 2014, opening up an office with the capacity for 40 people the city centre.
It was reported that the tech giant's expansion to Cambridge came after some persuasion from the UK government, and it could be used as a research and development centre.
Apple is moving into 90 Hills Road, a modern office space with a roof deck and multiple floors for its employees. And while we don't know exactly what's going to be happening in Apple's Cambridge office, we do know that it recently hired the team behind Cambridge-based mapping app PinDrop.
ARM is a Cambridge-based chipmaker that designs semiconductors and software for tech companies around the world. It has a high-tech campus in Cambridge which serves as its global headquarters.
Chips made by ARM can be found in everything from iPhones to Samsung tablets. In fact, you could even call ARM chips the most-used consumer product in the world, with around 4.3 billion people using a device containing an ARM chip every day.
What's interesting about ARM is that it doesn't actually build the chips it designs. Instead it licenses the technology, letting other people spend the money building them.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.