The History and Evolution of Arduino
Arduino is where it all begins before the flourishing of various types of boards since 2005. The story began when, Massimo Banzi, a teacher at Italy’s Interaction Design Institute Ivrea, needed for a low-cost microcontroller platform for his students to learn about electronics and be able to do custom programming on the board. Under an open-source environment, a community of engineers, hackers, and innovative people, all came together to build the first Arduino board called Arduino Serial in 2005. In case you are curious about where the name came from. It was named after a local pub: Bar di Re Arduino. However, there were controversial stories of how this board had been built, and someone did not get proper credits from contributing to the birth of Arduino. (https://arduinohistory.github.io/)
Arduino was just like any products that have its growth and maturity but had to be paced with the technologies available in that period. As a result, it started with an old-style RS-232 serial port version and later upgraded to USB version, and now some newer boards come with a Micro HDMI connector. The microcontroller, the heart of the board, grew from ATmega8, Atmega168, Atmega328, Atmega32u4, Atmega1280, ATmega2560, to a 32-bit processor. In every upgrade, there are many improvements from the previous version. For examples, the onboard memory was doubled or even quadruple as seen in Atmega1280. More programmable pins became available in later generations. Various form factors begin to take in shape for different purposes. There is LilyPad series that have a thinner, compact form factor and they come with easy-to-use conductive material for making wearables products. There are affordable prototyping boards like the Uno, Leonardo, Nano, Mega2560, Primo, and Due for their abilities to do modular and adaptable devices. There are IoT-centric boards that make good connectivity and communication as their priority, and they consume lower power making them ideal for IoT applications, and they are the MKR VIDOR 4000, MKR1000, MKRZero, MKRFOX1200, Ethernet, and Primo boards. Moreover, there are other boards like Yun/Yun Mini, Zero, Tian, MO/MO Pro, and the Industrial 101 aim for serving the industrial needs because some of them like YUN have the true microprocessor power which they can run Linux operating system on it. Finally, there are other Arduino boards build for fun and educational, like the Esplora which derived from Arduino Leonardo, and Arduino Robot that has wheels and you can build awesome robots from it.
Besides these fancy upgrades and new derived products, there are other changes between upgrades. For examples, in an older generation of Arduino boards, you must push the reset button on board instead of doing it from your computer. Later, things like adding additional resistance, voltage protectors, new chips are common in upgrades. In the recent generations, the boards run at lower 3.3V to minimize the power consumption and have better bidirectional communications, and there are equipped with sophisticated chips and interfaces that could do low-power Wi-Fi with a Cryptochip for secure communication using SHA-256 encryption. Indeed, with the expanded memory and processing power, developers can do more and write more complex codes to the new generations of the boards.
Future Outlook for Arduino
It’s been an exciting journey to see how Arduino boards have grown into sophisticated devices while trying to keep its cost low and follows its early mission when founded. For example, Uno Wi-Fi is one of the latest products that comes with built-in 8-bit microprocessor from Microchip and crypto chip accelerator to make secure Wi-Fi connection and onboard IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) which tracks motion. The Arduino MKR NB series is the newest class of products that is made with NB-IoT and LTE CAT-M1 wireless technologies and onboard chargeable Li-Po batteries.