From the Wikipedia page on Open Source Hardware and Software,

In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a) universal access via free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and b) universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.[1] Before the phrase open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of terms for the concept; open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet, and the attendant need for massive retooling of the computingsource code.[2] Opening the source code enabled a self-enhancing diversity of production models, communication paths, and interactive communities.[3] The open-source software movement arose to clarify the environment that the new copyrightlicensingdomain, and consumer issues created.

The open-source model includes the concept of concurrent yet different agendas and differing approaches in production, in contrast with more centralized models ofdevelopment such as those typically used in commercial software companies.[4][page needed] A main principle and practice of open-source software development is peer production by bartering and collaboration, with the end-product, source-material, “blueprints“, and documentation available at no cost to the public. This model is also used for the development of open-source-appropriate technologies,[5] solar photovoltaic technology [6] and open-source drug discovery.

Generally, open source refers to a computer program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design. Open-source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations.

Open-source hardware is hardware whose initial specification, usually in a software format, are published and made available to the public, enabling anyone to copy, modify and redistribute the hardware and source code without paying royalties or fees. Open-source hardware evolves through community cooperation. These communities are composed of individual hardware/software developers, hobbyists, as well as very large companies.

Essentially, your pcb layouts, code, ideas, and images are released to the public without the property protection of patents, trademarks, or copywrite. As long as the community respects the open source license and provides ample credit and reference, your ideas will grow at an accelerated pace as they are can be improved by anyone who wants to contribute. If you legally guard your hardware and software, even with a team of professionals, the rate at which you can innovate and the new ideas you can come up with are severely limited. With an open source license from Creative Commons, the floodgates of creativity are opened, and opportunities for making some amazing things surge in.

Creative Commons License
This work by Walltech Industries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Largely based on a work at
Creative Commons License
Walltech Images and logos by Walltech are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The official license needed to designate a project “open source” is the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. It designates your work sharable and adaptable by anyone, as long as they issue ample credit back to the source, license their work the same way, and highlight changes they make. With this “seal of approval,” you can open source your ideas, hardware, software, images, logos, and writing. For example, the code, designs, and writing of Walltech is under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, whereas the logos and images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, so they can’t be modified or sold. The website extension, “.cc” highlights my affiliation with the creative Commons group, and let’s visitors know straight away that this is an open sourced project. I’m proud to display these licenses, and it is important to me that the extension stands for the open source idea.


Examples of open-source initiatives are:

  • Openmoko: a family of open-source mobile phones, including the hardware specification and the operating system.
  • OpenRISC: an open-source microprocessor family, with architecture specification licensed under GNU GPL and implementation underLGPL.
  • Sun Microsystems‘s OpenSPARC T1 Multicore processor. Sun has released it under GPL.[26]
  • Arduino, a microcontroller platform for hobbyists, artists and designers.[27]
  • GizmoSphere, an open source development platform for the embedded design community; the site includes code downloads and hardware schematics along with free user guides, spec sheets and other documentation.[28]
  • Simputer, an open hardware handheld computer, designed in India for use in environments where computing devices such as personal computers are deemed inappropriate.[29]
  • LEON: A family of open-source microprocessors distributed in a library with peripheral IP cores, open SPARC V8 specification, implementation available under GNU GPL.
  • Tinkerforge: A system of open source stackable microcontroller building blocks. Allows to control motors and read out sensors with the programming languages C, C++, C#, Object Pascal, Java, PHP, Python and Ruby over a USB or Wifi connection on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. All of the hardware is licensed under CERN OHL (CERN Open Hardware License).
  • Open Compute Project: designs for computer data center including power supply, Intel motherboard, AMD motherboard, chassis, racks, battery cabinet, and aspects of electrical and mechanical design.[30]
  • Lasersaur, an open source laser cutter.


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