This guest column by Alejandro Erives, brand manager for Sitara processors at Texas Instruments, celebrates BeagleBone.org’s fifth birthday. In a lighthearted and entertaining missive, Erives highlights the history of BeagleBoard.org, the benefits of open source hardware and software to embedded development, and the advantages of open development platforms for students, makers, entrepreneurs, and even silicon vendors.
Power to the People: BeagleBoard.org leads the Open Hardware and Software Movement
by Alejandro Erives, Sitara brand manager, Texas Instruments
In the beginning, overzealous semiconductor vendor overlords commanded that every developer beg on their hands and knees to use the latest technology on the latest development kits. The overlords demanded outrageous sums of money and refused to offer any help. The earth became a desolate wasteland of overpriced and poorly supported development kits. The masses suffered as the privileged look from upon their thrones.
Then, two engineers — we’ll call them Jason and Gerald — came upon the idea of creating a low-priced open-source platform that everyone could use and support. Word of this idea quickly traveled to the overlords and, needless to say, they were not pleased. They demanded the heads of these engineers. Jason and Gerald were able to escape and found refuge in a land called Texas.
There, they shared their idea with people of Texas, explaining the valuable benefits of low-cost community-supported boards to developers, as well as students and hobbyists. They were so amazed at the prospects and possibilities of this this idea. After much collaboration, late nights, and colorful debates, Jason and Gerald agreed on a platform.
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On July 28, 2008 BeagleBoard.org was born with its first low-cost development board offering: the BeagleBoard. Its birth began the dawn of a new era. One in which both new and experienced developers alike had access to the most powerful processors in the market. An era in which creativity and ingenuity was not hampered by the price of a development board. An era in which “all for one and one for all” truly became the mantra of an open-source community that became united on BeagleBoard.org.
In the five years of its existence, four low-cost open hardware and software development boards utilizing the latest Sitara processor technologies have been created, including the new BeagleBone Black. With a 1GHz Sitara AM3358 processor, a developer can boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started on development in less than five minutes with using a single USB cable.
Four generations: BeagleBoard, BeagleBoard-xM, BeagleBone, BeagleBone Black
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The people of the world rejoiced; with these development platforms they were able to let their imaginations run free and create robots, 3D printers, superhero suites, larger than life video games, and other revolutionary ideas. With their new found freedom, their happiness went up — as did their productivity. This translated into more chip sales, and that pleased the semiconductor vendors. They soon realized that an open-source, community-supported platform can have a positive impact on their bottom line. Thus, more boards from various vendors became available to the open-source community. Was this competition to BeagleBoard? No, it was a community. A community in which all members encourage each other to thrive, prosper, and succeed.
The open hardware and software community has become so important to the development process that semiconductor companies collaborate with and hire members from those communities, in order to make their own product offerings better.
This all happened in the first five years of BeagleBoard.org’s existence. Imagine what will happen in the next five years.
|About the author: Alejandro Erives is brand manager for the Sitara processors product line at Texas Instruments. His responsibilities include leading the marketing direction of the Sitara processors product line at industry tradeshows, trainings, and online. Erives is also an active member of the BeagleBoard.org community. He received a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering and a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Texas at El Paso.|
Please note: The views and opinions expressed in this guest column are those of its author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this website, its editorial staff, or its management.