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MAKE Asks: is a weekly column where we ask you, our readers, for responses to maker-related questions. We hope the column sparks interesting conversation and is a way for us to get to know more about each other.

This week’s question: Between Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Beaglebone, and a whole host of other products that are used to marry computer programming and electronics, there’s often confusion about what to call them. Should they be kept in their own categories: computer-on-a-chip, microcontroller, embedded system? What do all these terms mean, anyway? Or should we just keep a catch-all phrase for them all?

To reduce confusion, I am for calling them all “prototyping boards.” It describes what they all do fairly accurately, it’s just that they all do them differently and/or better or worse. It also eliminates any debate over naming, when really we should be focusing on the hardware itself.

Post your responses in the comments section.

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


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