Arduino – what is it?

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In 2004, a very simple microcontroller board and accompanying programming environment was developed in Italy. Many people contributed to the design, and there has been some controversy and acrimonious debate about who did what. However, the degree of acceptance as a learning tool for electronics and robotics that Arduino has achieved is truly astonishing.


There are many types and sizes of Arduino boards, the one shown here being the most popular. It is about 2″ by 3″, costs less than $30, is programmed via usb, and has a variety of digital and analog interfaces that can be used to connect it to the real world.

The programming environment, called the Arduino IDE, is available for PC, MAC, and Linux.


This free and open source programming environment allows you to write a program, compile it, and download it to the Arduino.

The Arduino board is a very small computer, having just 32Kb of flash memory, and a 16 MHz clock rate. It is based on the ATmega328 microcontroller chip. There is no operating system, just a boot loader. but the simplicity of the Arduino is the key to its magic: You can start to learn the very important concepts of electronics and computer science without all the layers of overhead involved with more complex systems.

Additional posts in this category will describe experiments and projects we have done with an Arduino board. Please look at the lists of Internet links that we have collected to help you to get started.