This is in the one of the most common questions I get asked and today I'd like to answer that for you!
Let's dig in...
Arduino is actually the name of the company that really started the entire maker movement in the early 2000's.
It was started by 4 friends in Italy that decided to create an electronics platform which could be used by both engineers and hobbyists without the need for a PHD in rocket science.
The first board they released is called the Arduino UNO, meaning the number one in Italian. That's the board you see here on the left.
Over time, it became apparent that customers wanted a smaller form factor of the same board and so the Arduino Nano was born. That's the board you see above on the right.
Believe it or not, they both are exactly the same! One is just smaller than the other.
But What Is It In Laymen Terms?
Have a look again at the photo above, specifically at where the numbers 1 and 2 are.
That right there, is the reason the electronic world around us exists, not just Arduino.
Let me explain...
Those numbered components are called microcontrollers (sometimes referred to as a micro or MCU).
Think of it like a tiny, brain which you program to make it do whatever you want using a programming language called C.
It can also be programmed in C++ but that's a story for another time.
Inside of these micros are microscopic transistors.
If you're not familiar with what a transistor is, think of it like a switch.
It's the building blocks of every electronic gadget you own!
And manufacturers can fit a mind boggling amount of these into these tiny packages.
When I say mind boggling, I mean numbers ranging from a few hundred, to a few hundred THOUSAND all inside of something no bigger than the size of your pinky nail.
In reality, its much smaller than that, but you get the idea, they can fit a ton in a really small area.
Now... these transistors are arraigned in a very specific way to provide very specific functionality.
They can do everything from lighting simple LED's to controlling sophisticated motors in your drone and everything in between.
Prior to Arduino hitting the scene, if you wanted to get into electronics and start using Microcontrollers, you needed an electrical engineering degree.
And then you needed to swim through miles upon miles of documentation for that particular micro.
Through a lot of trial and error you could eventually get your mirco to do some pretty awesome stuff.
But as you can imagine, development was ssslllloooowwwwww.
I'm talking a sloth could swim across the English channel 12 times before you could get it to light a simple LED.
Thankfully, Arduino came along just in time!
When Arduino hit the scene they wanted to simplify all of this, they wanted a system so easy to use that anyone could make amazing electronic projects in minutes not months!
In order to do this, they had to create a simple to use piece of hardware (Uno and Nano) and made it into the standard form factor you saw earlier.
Next, they simplified the programming language and also the program you use to actually do your programming called the IDE.
Thanks to Arduino, making any electronic idea come to life is really simple.
Well, that's it, that's Arduino in a nutshell!
However, in order to really harness the power of it, you need to attach your Uno or Nano to other hardware.
You need things like switches, LED's buzzers, tri-colored LED's, a super cool display and of course BLE for communicating with other hardware.
But that's just getting you started, what you really need to get into Arduino is a robust, reliable kit that has cool projects and even better support.
If you search for Arduino kit on google, boy oh boy, will you see gatrillions of kits.
But which one do you choose? What's a good kit? Where do you even start?
Well, that's one of the reasons why I created the Dr.Duino brand, I wanted to simplify the starting point along with providing a really stellar Arduino development platform.
If you are looking to get started with Arduino OR are a seasoned pro and need a reliable and easy to use development platform, I'd like to invite you to come check out our entire line of Arduino Uno and Nano based shields.
If you have some electronics experience the Dr.Duino Explorer is the choice for you. Just click the photo below to find out more about.
If you're new to Arduino and electronics, then the Dr.Duino Pioneer version is the best choice. Click the photo below to learn more.