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The History of Adafruit – and What it is Today

By Ewan Fisher Subscribe to RSS | February 6th 2012 | Views:
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Adafruit is a major player on the open source electronics scene – a company that has grown out of a perceived need to deliver programming and electronic devices with no proprietary restriction preventing others from using their technology in development. Similar to the knowledge project undertaken by Jimmy Wales at Wikipedia, open source electronics is all about sharing the latest developments and endeavours so further good can be done by their use.

Adafruit is one of the most recognisable names in the open source electronics revolution. The hobbyist company is named for Limor Fried (its owner)’s online alias, ladyada. The company name is most prominently associated with the Arduino, a Microcontroller board that is available in a variety of packs (and with limitless combinations of add ons and inventor’s “bits” available to work with it) and which has been used to develop all sorts of open source devices, from smart phones to game controllers to clocks.

Electronics hobbyists use Adafruit components and boards as part of a constantly evolving workshop of bits and pieces, which aid invention and theoretically (along with the open source coding and programs developed by previous generations of enthusiasts) allow them to create or refine pretty much any item of home electronics. Indeed, so all pervasive and popular has the Adafruit open source ethos become, that even major corporations have started to give way to the tide.

In recent years, for example, Adafruit enthusiasts took part in an unauthorised competition to design open source drivers for Microsoft’s Kinect (for the Xbox), which were initially condemned by the Corporation – but after seeing the quality and quantity of potential drivers coming out of the initiative, Microsoft changed its mind and effectively endorsed the whole enterprise.

The Arduino and other Adafruit open source platforms have been used to create technology that you’re probably familiar with on a number of common devices – including, for example, the etch facility on the Amazon Kindle. Who knows what the next generation of open source hobbyists will come up with, as the quiet revolution effectively started by ladyada and her fellow enthusiasts becomes a more mainstream cooperative endeavour?

It’s possible to build specific items with Adafruit kits as well as using them as ingredients in a more complicated workshop. The company’s extremely popular Ice Clock Kits, for example, make great amateur electronics gifts and provide the end user with a smart electronic clock.

Ewan Fisher - About Author:
Proto-PIC is a website designed originally as a front-line resource for electronics enthusiasts and hobbyists. Proto-PIC is particularly concentrated on Microcontroller Programming and Development, supplying kits and individual parts made by the biggest names in the hobby electronics world.adafruit

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