Thanks to Hackster.io for naming Adafruit founder Limor “ladyada” Fried, as one of their Hackster Heroes! Check out their interview here.
Adafruit was founded back in 2005 by MIT hacker and engineer Limor “Ladyada” Fried, whose goal was to create the best place online for learning electronics and making the best designed products for Makers of all ages and skill levels. Since then, Adafruit has grown to over 50 employees in the heart of NYC with a 50,00o-plus square foot factory.
Ladyada’s long list of accolades include everything from becoming the first female engineer on the cover of WIRED to being the recipient of Entrepreneur magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” award. Adafruit has also been ranked #11 in the top 20 USA manufacturing companies and named #1 in New York City on the Inc. 5000 “Fastest Growing Private Companies” list. Oh, and did we mention Adafruit is a 100% woman-owned company?!
We recently had to the chance to sit down with Limor, following her trip to the White House during the National Week of Making. Here’s what she had to say…
What’s your personal background?
I’m an engineer that likes to solve problems! One of the first times I remember thinking I’d be an engineer was when I was about 7 or 8. I saw a bunch of balloons stuck to the ceiling at a local mall after an event, and no one could reach them, so I went home and constructed a mechanical arm with my Dad. After going back, getting on his shoulders and using the balloon catcher device we made, we retrieved all the balloons and gave them to others who also wanted balloons.
What did you work on during your time at MIT Media Lab?
Cell phone jammers, television blocking glasses and wearables — hacker projects. Something to check out… “Social defense mechanisms: tools for reclaiming our personal space”
What made you decide to launch Adafruit? Why NYC?
I left Boston to join Eyebeam as a fellow in 2005 and 2006. I was running Adafruit and working in the Open Lab. One of the best things about launching a company in NYC is that there are so many talented people to learn from, work with and bring together in technology, art and electronics.
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.