SPARC, or the Scalable (originally Sun) Processor ARChitecture was designed by Sun Microsystems for their own use. Sun was a maker of workstations, and used standard 68000-based CPUs and a standard operating system, Unix. Research versions of load- store processors had promised a major step forward in speed but existing manufacturers were slow to introduce a RISC processor, so Sun went ahead and developed its own (based on Berkeley's design). In keeping with their open philosophy, they licensed it to other companies, rather than manufacture it themselves.
SPARC was not the first RISC processor. The AMD 29000 (see below) came before it, as did the MIPS R2000 (based on Stanford's experimental design) and Hewlett-Packard PA-RISC CPU, among others. The SPARC design was radical at the time, even omitting multiple cycle multiply and divide instructions (added in later versions), using repeated single-cycle "step" instructions instead (similar in idea to the square root step instruction in the Transputer T-800), while most RISC CPUs were more conventional.