Limor Fried, who earned her masters in electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, runs Adafruit industries, which sells do-it-yourself electronics kits. For every kit Adafruit sells, Fried posts design files, schematics for circuit boards, and any software code needed. She welcomes people to use the information, as long as they credit where it came from and post any modifications they make. She sees it as a way to foster innovation.
“For the most part, everyone finally agrees that open source software has been a success. It runs the net, it runs Google, it runs everything,” Fried said. “Millions of companies and billions of dollars are made possible by open source software. Open source hardware is just starting to take off.”
She also hosts weekly video chats with partner Phillip Torrone and blogs, because she sees the hardware she sells—things like MintyBoost, a backup charger for iPhones or any USB device, that is housed in a tiny Altoids can—as not just products, but part of a larger cause. “People want to see the world become a better place through science and engineering,” Fried said. “We’re going to need the current and future generations to get inspired.”