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Arduino is an open-source computer hardware and software company, project and user community that designs and manufactures kits for building digital devices and interactive objects that can sense and control the physical world. Arduino boards may be purchased preassembled, or as do-it-yourself kits; at the same time, the hardware design information is available for those who would like to assemble an Arduino from scratch.

The project is based on a family of microcontroller board designs manufactured primarily by SmartProjects in Italy, and also by several other vendors, using various 8-bit Atmel AVR microcontrollers or 32-bit Atmel ARM processors. These systems provide sets of digital and analog I/O pins that can be interfaced to various expansion boards (so-called shields) and other circuits. The boards feature serial communications interfaces, including USB on some models, for loading programs from personal computers. For programming the microcontrollers, the Arduino platform provides an integrated development environment (IDE) based on the Processing project, which includes support for C and C++ programming languages.

The first Arduino was introduced in 2005. The project leaders sought to provide an inexpensive and easy way for novices and professionals to create devices that interact with their environment using sensors and actuators. Common examples for beginner hobbyists include simple robots, thermostats and motion detectors. Adafruit Industries estimated in mid-2011 that over 300,000 official Arduinos had been commercially produced, and in 2013 that 700,000 official boards were in users’ hands.

source: wikipedia.org