Power to the People: BeagleBoard.org leads the Open Hardware and Software Movement

 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. These oppressors 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 looked down on them from upon their thrones.

Then, four engineers – we’ll call them Jason, Gerald, Steve and Khasim – came up with the idea of creating a low-priced open-source platform that everyone could use and support. Word of this idea quickly traveled to the tyrants and, needless to say, they were not pleased. They demanded the heads of these engineers. The four engineers were able to escape and found refuge in a land called Texas.

There, they shared their idea with the people of Texas, explaining the valuable benefits of low-cost community-supported boards to developers, as well as students and hobbyists. The people were so amazed at the prospects and possibilities of this this idea. After much collaboration, countless late nights and colorful debates, Jason and Gerald agreed on a platform.

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—0ne 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 found itself united on http://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 the 1 GHz Sitara AM3358 processor, a developer can boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started developing in less than five minutes with a single USB cable.

The people of the world rejoiced; with these development platforms they were able to let their imaginations run free and create upper body exoskeletons, 3D printers, superhero suites, larger-than-life video games and other revolutionary ideas. With their newfound freedom, their happiness exponentially increased – as did their productivity. This translated into more chip sales, pleasing 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 both collaborate with and hire its members 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!

Alejandro Erives, Sitara ARM Processors Brand Manager, is gettin' jiggy with it for Beagle's 5 year birthday. Here's Boris on the 1's and 2's...

And a great video about the past five years...