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= Open Source Hardware company




"Ms. Fried, who runs a hardware design business from her apartment, also laser-etches customized designs into iPods and laptops for about $30 each. From her Web site,, she sells plans and kits for electronic devices. They include kits for a universal remote control ($19.50) — to turn off any television in your vicinity — and a set of lights for bicycle spokes that spell out words and draw symbols as you ride ($37.50).

Ms. Fried uses the tools of industrial rapid prototyping, including lasers and premade electronic circuitry. But new services are also making such tools available to creative people who could not otherwise afford them." (

2. By Dominic Basulto:

"This was the year that coding and hacking went mainstream. It was a time when some of the most interesting and often quirky startups being launched around concepts such as open source and crowdsourcing began to find their way onto the cover of magazines. Companies such as Adafruit Industries, are at the forefront of helping tens of thousands of tech hobbyists create objects that have never before existed.

Limor "Ladyada" Fried, founder and CEO of Adafruit Industries.That, in fact, is perhaps why you’ve never heard of Adafruit Industries. Unlike a traditional tech company — companies such as Apple, Samsung or Microsoft — Adafruit does not manufacture, design or sell what many would consider a mainstream consumer gadget. Instead, the company sells electronic kits that help people assemble their own products. And when the company does sell an item, it comes with an open-source license, meaning that you’re basically free to hack it apart and sell a better one yourself. That’s an extremely powerful idea.

Adafruit also has an intensely loyal community of people who, well, make things. They tinker. They hack. They ask questions like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a way to...?” The best-selling item at Adafruit is something called a Minty Boost, which is basically a hacked-together power source for your smart phone that fits into an Altoids case and runs on a pair of AA batteries." 9



"In October Fried moved her 35 employees from a 2,000-square-foot loft near Wall Street to a 12,000-square-foot industrial space in SoHo, then hired 15 more people. Just a week after the move, Fried was bubbling with excitement, obvious even over the din of 500 packages being prepped for the daily UPS shipment. "It's a new chapter in the business," she exclaims. "I think we can quadruple our current size." No mean feat, considering Adafruit has shipped more than half a million kits in the last seven years, and revenue has doubled every year for the past three. The warehouse-grade power supply at the new facility allows for simultaneous operation of large equipment like laser engravers and mills, which means much faster production; the additional space means more inventory can be stocked. Fried is also throwing her creative weight behind education initiatives, designing school curricula in electronic circuitry and robotics and creating stickers and badges, à la Girl Scouts, to get kids to brag about their skills in areas like welding and programming." (


Sharing and Open Source Culture at Adafruit

Indeed, everyone is invited to the DIY party, from elementary-school students building robotic arms to grandmothers sewing jackets with working LED movie displays using Flora, a wearable electronics platform with conductive threads and washable hardware. The web is full of third-party tutorials for Adafruit's open-source projects; Fried also has three full-time engineers dedicated to troubleshooting. "Everything is designed to be painless," she says. "I spend a lot of time thinking about how customers will interact with products so they won't break them. And when we sell something, we always give good documentation to get [them] going in a couple minutes.

The open-source designs lend themselves to "a culture of sharing," and tens of thousands of Adafruit customers are feeding off each other's creativity, tinkering with more powerful MintyBoosts and iNecklaces that flash at different speeds and cycle through bright colors. "People learn and come back with fixes, send us weird Halloween costumes based off our kits," Fried says. "I read blog posts and tweets from customers, and I definitely get ideas from them that I personally might not have thought of." (

More Information

  • Other examples:
  1. Ponoko
  2. Chumby