The Arduboy History

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A song of bits and bytes

As the time of this writing, Arduboy is over 5 years old! If this is your first time discovering Arduboy it may be interesting for you to learn where it came from. So join along, for a quick retelling of the story of how Arduboy came to be!

The prototype goes viral – March, 2014

Arduboy founder Kevin Bates created the original prototype while learning about microcontrollers with Arduino and designing custom made circuit boards. Envisioned originally as a digital business card, the form factor of a miniature game system the size of a credit card had instant worldwide appeal across the internet. The YouTube video and associated gif thumbnails and stories eventually reached an audience of over a billion people in virtually every corner of the internet.

Arduboy becomes a company – September, 2014

Shortly after receiving thousands of requests to purchase the Arduboy, the company was formed in partnership with a secret angel investor with over 25 years of gaming industry experience. Using rapid prototyping technologies like 3d-printing a new prototype had been designed that was intended to be manufactured, instead of a one off delicate hand built art piece.

Arduboy goes to China – January, 2015

Joining a hardware accelerator HAX, Arduboy was given access to a co-working space and support staff in Shenzhen, China. Working from China allowed direct hands on access to the components and equipment in the largest electronic marketplace in the world. Within the scope of a couple days it is possible to go from idea to a mass production run of thousands of units, often an surprisingly affordable price.

Kickstarter goes live – May, 2015

Launching on the crowdfunding platform a little more than a year after it went viral, the campaign was still met with astounding success of being over 400% funded within the first day. By the end of the campaign nearly half a million dollars were pledged from almost ten thousand backers.

Tetris MicroCard announced – October, 2015

Impressed by all of the media attention that the Arduboy was able to generate, the Tetris Company reached out about the possibility of creating a dedicated system to fulfill the dreams of Tetris fans to play the game on a credit-card shaped system. Originally slated for announcement after the shipment of the Arduboy Kickstarter, the announcement was made in order to coincide with their 25-year anniversary media blast.

Arduboy ships – August, 2016

For the first time ever, others are able to experience the magic that is credit card sized 8-bit gaming. Delayed by around 6 to 9 months, the campaign successfully completed shipping to all it’s backers and was met with rave reviews. The remaining over-stock from the campaign quickly sold out beginning a familiar cycle of trying to maintain enough inventory to satisfy demand for years to come.

Tetris MicroCard ships – April, 2017

After a labored product development cycle that took the majority of 2016, including an entire scrapped production batch due to a defect discovered during product testing, the MicroCard finally shipped to pre-order backers. Again, despite many people waiting well over a year for the product, nearly everyone loved the product and also has historically struggled to be produced in high enough quantities to meet demand.

Arduboy Special Edition Kickstarter – September, 2017

To celebrate the incredible developments within the software development community for the Arduboy, a special edition campaign was created to share some of the proceeds with the developers. The game development group teamARG produced a role playing game complete with inventory, battle systems, and an impressively large map all within less than 32kb of memory space.

Special Edition Ships – March, 2018

While still a little late, it wasn’t as late as the first Kickstarter! The campaign was a smashing success and in the end were able to donate extra plush dolls that were created for the campaign to charity!

Super Impulse Micro Arcade Announced – February, 2019

At the New York Toy Fair a new series of miniature consoles from Super Impulse was announced. The Micro Arcade uses technology licensed from Arduboy, basically sharing the design of the MicroCard! Super Impulse has already added color to the console and in addition to Tetris there is now Pac-man and many more on the way!

Arduboy in the Classroom – June, 2019

After nearly 5 years of witnessing the positive impact Arduboy has has had on so many people, the next chapter opens for the platform in teaching kids how to code video games! Learning to create video games is a unique way of learning to code as it helps form a greater emotional and semi-tangible interaction than other ways of learning. Setting goals, critically thinking about how to solve problems you’ve effectively set for yourself and communicate with others solutions and results are all valuable skill sets.

Currently Arduboy is running classrooms around the world in efforts to develop a curriculum that meets as many standardized objectives as possible. The goal is to create a set of modules, when used in there entirety form something to the equivalent of an AP level computer science course in C++, but is intended to grab any specific lesson and without any prior knowledge to be able to get your hands dirty.

The whole vision of learning on the Arduboy platform is shortest possible path to meaningful learning moments and most importantly that it is fun and is something people honestly look forward to.

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