Limor Fried

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= "Limor is the founder of Adafruit Industries, a New York City based electronic kit company. Limor recently received the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Pioneer Award for her work in Open Source Hardware."


"Recognizable by her signature vivid-pink locks, Fried (or Ladyada, as she is known on the internet) is one of the dominant forces behind the maker movement--a legion of do-it-yourself-minded folks who create cool things by tweaking everyday technology. Last year New York City-based Adafruit did a booming $10 million trade in sales of DIY open-source electronic hardware kits, so-called because project designs are free and publicly accessible, and customers are encouraged to modify or "hack" the final product. In addition to MintyBoost ($19.50), the online catalog includes in-house designs like the iNecklace ($75), a pendant shaped like an Apple gadget's "on" button, complete with a pulsing LED light; and third-party products that have earned the "Adafruit seal of approval," like the MaKey MaKey ($49.95), a device that can turn any object that conducts electricity--a coin, cat, banana--into a functioning touchpad or keyboard." (


"Adafruit's own schematics were drawn up in 2005, while Fried was studying for a master's degree in computer science and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She liked to put skills she learned in class to the test by building functional objects like MP3 players, synthesizers and light toys from scratch, using custom-ordered parts. This was before YouTube and the iPhone, so she posted DIY instructions for the projects on her personal website. Soon she was bombarded with requests to sell pre-assembled kits. "At first I was like, 'No dude, I'm really busy, leave me alone,'" she says. But after a few months, her fans wore her down.

With $10,000 her parents had allocated for her tuition, Fried bought a bulk quantity of parts and began assembling and selling her kits, making about $10 on each unit. In the beginning, running the company consisted of shipping a couple of packages a day from the 24-hour post office next door to her dorm. As orders increased, she hired friends; before she knew it, she was designing a new project every week around newfangled components like gyrometric sensors, solar panels and thermal printers.

"I think the company took off because, before these kits, there wasn't a learning project out there that you would actually use or wanted to keep," she says. "Some people will learn for the sake of learning it, but most people need a reason." (

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