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Evolution of Microcontrollers Panel

The “Evolution of Microcontrollers” panel with Massimo Banzi, left, Jason Kridner, center, and MAKE’s Matt Richardson.

Makers love to develop on their favorite microcontrollers. The creators behind two of the most popular took boards the stage at the New York Hardware Innovation Workshop (HIW) in a panel moderated by MAKE’s own Matt Richardson. Although makers might like to argue about which is the best platform, there was plenty of common ground for these two panelists.

Massimo Banzi, Co-Founder of the Arduino Project, began the session with a short discussion on how and why Arduino got started.

“Every time you design a system to do everything, you end up with a system designed to do nothing,” Massimo says. “The challenge is to build a platform that solves a simple problem for a specific group of people: beginners for example.”

That’s just what the Arduino Project set out to do.

“Our boards are not the most powerful, but they enable people to get ideas into products very fast. It’s people over Megahertz.”

Jason Kridner, co-founder of BeagleBoard agreed. “Our goal is to get the technology out there, and get out of people’s way,” he said.

Jason was a chief technologist for one of the largest microelectronics companies out there, Texas Instruments. Now he is an open platforms evangelist at TI, in addition to his work at BeagleBoard.

It is also important to build a community where beginners can get help. “Everybody should know how to ask an expert a question,” Jason said.

Regarding any animosity between makers in one microcontroller camp and another, Massimo joked, “You have to manage the ‘bitchiness’ in any tech community.”

Andrew Terranova

Andrew Terranova is an electrical engineer, writer and an electronics and robotics hobbyist. He is an active member of the Let’s Make Robots community, and handles public relations for the site.
Andrew has created and curated robotics exhibits for the Children’s Museum of Somerset County, NJ and taught robotics classes for the Kaleidoscope Learning Center in Blairstown, NJ and for a public primary school. Andrew is always looking for ways to engage makers and educators.


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