The making of Arduino, an open source electronics prototyping platform

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The making of Arduino

IEEE Spectrum, the flagship publication for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, recently carried an article on the history of the popular open hardware microcontroller board, the Arduino.

[Project founder Massimo] Banzi and his collaborators were strong believers in open source software. Since the purpose was to create a quick and easily accessible platform, they felt they’d be better off opening up the project to as many people as possible rather than keeping it closed.

For Banzi, this is perhaps the most important impact of Arduino: the democratization of engineering. "Fifty years ago, to write software you needed people in white aprons who knew everything about vacuum tubes," Banzi says. "We’ve enabled a lot of people to create products themselves."

"By providing a platform that lets the artist or designer get a little way in there, it makes it easier for them to work with engineers and say, ’This is what I want to do,’ " [lead Arduino software developer David Mellis] says. "I don’t think it’s replacing the engineer; it’s just facilitating that collaboration."

The Arduino is a fantastic example of multiple things--a platform for rapid prototyping (a crucial component of the open source way), a hacker 'scratching his own itch' (I need a platform for my students) in public where other people could adapt his creation for their own wildly different uses, a way to lower the barriers to access of technology creation.

Have you worked with the Arduino or another open hardware platform that's changed your view of electronics, making, or the world in general? What other tools have started in an academic setting and spread elsewhere?

Off the top of my head, I can think of Processing and Eucalyptus, but there are scores of others--a little operating system called Linux, for example...

Share your stories below. And a hat tip to Steve Jacobs for the link.

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Mel Chua is a contagiously enthusiastic hacker, writer, and educator with over a decade of teaching and curriculum development experience and a solid track record in leadership positions at Red Hat, One Laptop Per Child, Sugar Labs, Fedora, and other Free, Libre, and Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities.


I coach a First Lego League team. Part of that program includes doing research on a theme which changes annually. The research includes defining a problems and proposing a solution. The kids developed a working prototype for their solution around an Arduino UNO. The prototype was valuable in that it gave them a spring board to consider what would have to be improved to move toward a viable commercial product.

i created a door opener!
it uses a tomcat app server, a little bit of java, mysql (user tables) a little bit more of electronics (mainboard for arduino, arduino for interfacing) and of course the arduino c. ok... i am actually more of an engineer than an artist.

it was my first project with arduino and i found it interesting and very funny to realize. and the best thing is... i can open my door with my iphone ;-)

to the creators of arduino and its community: hail, yous!

so long and thanks for all the fish!

Hi, brian.
Since you´re playing with Java, you should try the jhome automation API
try it here: (english)

My first Arduino project controlled two servos. I wanted to work on the code while on the road so I set a web cam on the bread board and figured out how to hook the Arduino to my home network. Now I can remote in to my home PC, work on the code, download it to the Arduino and see if it behaves as expected. In the spirit of open source I put up my lessons learned on my web site ( What a great piece of hardware.

I recently showed some Arduino stuff I was working on (some MIDI controllers and Cheerlights) to my dad (a recently retired long-time software guy), and he was so excited about the possibilities he's getting an Uno and a starter kit as a holiday gift.

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