Below we share a thought-provoking article from Robert Huntley, Chief Knowledge Officer at Publitek. The article, “The Lasting Legacies of the Maker Movement,” first appeared on Huntley’s blog, GPIO BLOG on October 30, 2020.  It is republished here with his permission.

The Elektor team agrees with Huntley that the maker movement has reinvigorated the electronics industry. We've experienced this first hand since the global economic crisis of 2007-2008. During the past several years, we've seen the popularization of a wide variety of highly accessible engineering platforms, such as Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and ESP32 — all of which Elektor sells in its Store and covers in its publications. Such platforms, along with helpful content (e.g., project articles, engineering tutorials, and technical books) from our authors, have helped countless makers and professional engineers start new projects, create new electronic systems, and even launch products and companies around them! 

Dating back to the 1960s, Elektor magazine has had a broad audience, from professional engineers to academics to makers. Today, Elektor magazine appears in the English, German, Dutch, and French languages. But that's not all. To further support the maker communities in Europe and beyond, Elektor International Media also publishes Dutch and French editions of MagPi — the official Raspberry Pi magazine —  and a Dutch edition of Make: magazine — which is an excellent resource for Dutch-speaking makers to read articles about robotics, drones, 3D printing, programming, and much more. 

As 2021 approaches, the entire Elektor team — management, staff engineers, authors, and editors alike — is enthusiastic about the future of the maker movement and the electronics industry in general. We recently found that more than 2 million Facebook “lookalike” users resemble Elektor's typical English-speaking E-Zine readers. This fast-growing group of innovators is sure to disrupt the electronics industry in the weeks and months to come. We look forward to working with the community to design, share, and sell electronics!

The Lasting Legacies of the Maker Movement

By Robert Huntley (GPIO BLOG)

In addition to the strategic content marketing consultancy I deliver to clients, I also ghostwrite a lot of technical content. Recently, I pondered when I first included mention of the maker community in an article. My thinking took me on a journey back through time. The first online mention of makers appeared about 2005, the same year as Make magazine started. I remember buying an Arduino Diecimila to experiment with during late 2009, but I think it was 2010 or 2011 before the maker community was embraced by the mainstream electronics industry trade magazines. One of the first clients I worked on with a strong tie to the maker community was Atmel, which was acquired by Microchip in 2016. From 2010 I was responsible for Atmel’s public relations in Europe, which included the annual jaunt to Nuremberg for the Embedded World conference and exhibition. 
The lasting legacies of the maker movement.
Source: R. Huntley (

Industry recognition of the maker community

I recall talking to Atmel’s VP of marketing, Sander Arts, during Embedded World 2012 that Arduino wasn’t mentioned in their booth. Given that the Arduino boards used Atmel microcontrollers I felt that was a bit odd. By then, Arduino had shipped over 700,000 boards all with Atmel AVR microcontrollers. The following year, Atmel fully embraced the maker movement with a dedicated area on their booth.

Defining the maker community

The maker community isn’t a new phenomenon. It is deeply rooted in the hobbyist approach followed by ham radio enthusiasts, hackers, and computer clubs. Most importantly, professional electronics engineers can also be identified as makers in their spare time. Indeed, many engineers develop their skills by working on projects in their spare time at home. This is particularly true during the COVID era we currently face. Age is no barrier to being an electronics maker. You’ll find makers from all walks of life too.

In the beginning, many electronics and semiconductor companies were uncertain whether they should engage with the maker market if there was such a market at all. I’d say some clients gave a passing recognition while others did not want to spend any time or marketing dollars promoting to hobbyists. Hobbyist magazines such as Elektor had a particularly hard time appealing to the major semiconductor players although several went on to include the magazine as a must-have in their media buying schedule. While writing this post, I reached out to Don Akkermans, CEO of Elektor, to solicit his opinion on the maker market today. Don, and Elektor editor C.J. Abate, came back with an interesting statistic. Apparently, according to research they have conducted, there are 2 million Facebook “lookalike” users who match the typical Elektor English-speaking newsletter readers. Don also highlighted that "Elektor’s global community comprises pro engineers, EE/ECE students, and talented makers, and for decades, we’ve connected our members with the top tech companies throughout the electronics industry. Today, we continue to work with a wide range of industry partners — from major semiconductor companies to electronics-focused start-ups — to deliver engineering-related content, electronics contests, and new products to the global maker community.”

Maker movement reinvigorates the electronics industry

Today, the maker community represents a major marketplace for the semiconductor industry. Companies like Adafruit and Sparkfun bring sophisticated electronics to a worldwide maker community. They invest heavily in technical content, educational projects, software libraries, and drivers. Broadline component distributors such as Mouser and RS Components welcome orders from the maker community. The Electrocomponents Group, the owners of RS Components, took this a step further recently with the launch of okdo to specifically cater to the needs of makers and entrepreneurs.

Without a doubt, the Arduino single-board computer (SBC) has made a significant and transformative contribution to change across the electronics industry. Arduino is more closely tied to C programming and exploring the hardware domain, permitting ease of interfacing to the real world. Other SBCs, such as Raspberry Pi, equally deserving recognition, brought about change in a slightly different way. With more of a focus on coding in Python and the Linux operating system, the Raspberry Pi is aimed primarily at education. I’ve used both SBCs for different projects, but for me, with more of an embedded systems focus, I prefer the fact that Arduino gives me closer access to the ‘bare metal’ of the microcontroller. Apart from the hardware architecture, the other major difference between the two SBCs is that the Arduino is open source, permitting clones of the device while the Raspberry Pi design is proprietary.

Widespread adoption of maker boards heralds open standards for the industry

Whatever your view of the maker movement, there are at least three lasting legacies that the electronics industry has and will continue to benefit from. The first of these is the adoption of the Arduino’s shield pinout on a wide range of development boards, evaluation kits, and reference designs. There are two shield formats, that from the original Diecimila/UNO boards and the more recent MKR series, the former being the most popular. What many semiconductor vendors realised was that for their development boards to shine they needed to interface to something. That something could be a MEMS sensor, a wireless module, or a GNSS receiver. Adding these to a development board would be a costly exercise but adding an Arduino-compatible shield socket would give ready access to thousands of peripheral components. For example, I’m currently working on an I2C controlled opamp power supply based around an STM32 Nucleo board that has an Arduino shield connector. There are hundreds of other vendors, including Renesas, ONSemi, Intel, TI to name just a few that have adopted the Arduino shield pinout as a way of standardizing peripheral expansion for their dev kits and saving significant costs.

Democratization of innovation

The second legacy is the ease with which you can now prototype a design without formal electronics training. Indeed this applies to many makers, particularly those at school or college, but it also includes anyone who has an idea for a new product or application. The advent of SBCs and their associated modules, kits, and components have spawned a whole community intent on sharing knowledge. Whether the electronics industry was already heading this way, to a world of higher functional integration of circuitry, is up for debate. Either way, as I highlighted in my last post, commoditization has led to the democratization of electronics. If you have a product idea, start making! No longer is electronic design limited to the R&D labs of leading brands. Sure, you might need some help along the way, but the diversity and accessibility of forums such as, and design support services such as Indiegogo, will solve the challenges you face.

The maker generation in work

Perhaps the greatest legacy that the maker movement created has yet to become noticed. I refer to all those young makers that have grown up learning how to code, to flash an LED, and to make “Hello, world” appear on an LCD screen. A fair proportion of children that used a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino in school lessons, after-school clubs, and community coding clubs will have embarked on a career in electronics or IT. In the UK, many students started as early as 8 years old learning Python or C from 2010 onwards. In the coming years, those students will be leaving colleges and universities looking for work. Increasing the pool of engineers is good news for the electronics industry where the average age is steadily getting higher. I know, I’m one of them!