In 2005 the first Arduino was introduced. It began as a school project at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Ivrea, Italy. Ironically the name Arduino derived from a local bar in Ivrea where the founders would meet to work on the project. The masterminds behind Arduino, the microcontroller not the bar, where Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Tom Igoe, Gianluca Martino and David Mellis.
The intention behind it was to have an easy way for anyone from novices to professionals to be able to create devices that can interact with their environment just by using sensors. And the best part is that this was made possible quite inexpensively. Common uses would be in schools to teach children about robotics and to prove physics and chemistry principles. Musicians can use it, as well, to experiment with making new instruments and architects can use it to make interactive prototypes giving their clients a better idea of what they will be getting for their money.
The software is quite user friendly. It runs on Mac, Windows and Linux operating systems whereas most other microcontroller systems are limited strictly to Windows.
With the easy to follow instructions even a child can use this and the more advanced users such as hobbyists and programmers can tinker to their hearts content and even share ideas on online forums with other members of the Arduino community. The possibilities seem endless.
Arduino boards are quite affordable for anyone without even having to compare them with other systems. An easy to assemble module or even a preassembled one can cost the user under $50. You can buy Arduino in your local electronics shop or online on various electronics webshops.
Arduino software is published as open source meaning the plans for the board are readily available on the Arduino website. Even some versions of the hardware are made available. By making these public the developers only ask that the name Arduino is used exclusively for originals and not copies without prior permission.
In 2008 the original 5 co-founders created a company called Arduino LLC which was to hold all trademarks associated with Arduino. Manufacturing and sales were done by other companies with the royalties going to Arduino LLC. The bylaws of Arduino LLC stated that each of the founders had to transfer ownership of the Arduino brand to this newly formed company. A few years later the Arduino company attempted to register the trademark in other companies, as at this point it was only registered in the US. At this time they discovered it was already registered in Italy. It seems Gianluca Martino’s company Smart Projects had registered the trademark at the end of 2008. Negotiations with Gianluca and his company to bring the trademark back under the control of Arduino were unsuccessful to the point that by 2014 Smart Projects had even stopped paying royalties. A rift soon developed between the team and although the boards are still available to the public as well as the designs are still open sourced the future is uncertain.
However, in May 2015 Arduino LLC another trademark, Genuino, which is currently being used as their brand name outside of the US.