In short, Arduino is an electronic circuit board commonly used in DIY hardware projects creating interactive objects or environments. It allows you to read data from inputs (sensors, buttons) and write data to outputs (turning on/off other circuits or controlling motors). All these actions are programmed using a free programming language.
Why is it so popular? Because it is:
- Easy to use
- Supported by a user community
The first Arduino was made in 2005 by students in Italy. The goal was to create a cheap prototyping device for beginners. It has evolved through 16 versions since then and today there are around 1,000,000 boards owned by both beginners and also advanced users.
The heart is an Atmel microcontroller which includes the flash memory that can be directly programmed by a computer via a serial/USB cable (no external programmer is required). Other board components are described in the video.
The functionality can be further extended by other boards called “shields”, which are additional modules that can be connected to Arduino. For example motor controllers, GSM, GPS, Bluetooth, LCD screen and many others:
The microcontroller instructions are programmed with the Arduino Software (IDE) written in Java and based on the Processing language (simplified C++). It is cross-platform – running on Windows, Linux and also Mac. The language is easy to learn and use for beginners and at the same time flexible enough for advanced users. There are already many examples and a huge knowledge base built by the worldwide community of makers. It is also possible to use any other programming landuage with a compiler producing binary machine code.