The Arduino project started at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Ivrea, Italy. At that time, the students used a BASIC Stamp microcontroller at a cost of $50, a considerable expense for many students. In 2003 Hernando Barragán created the development platform Wiring as a Master's thesis project at IDII, under the supervision of Massimo Banzi and Casey Reas. Casey Reas is known for co-creating, with Ben Fry, the Processing development platform. The project goal was to create simple, low cost tools for creating digital projects by non-engineers. The Wiring platform consisted of a printed circuit board (PCB) with an ATmega168 microcontroller, an IDE based on Processing and library functions to easily program the microcontroller. In 2003, Massimo Banzi, with David Mellis, another IDII student, and David Cuartielles, added support for the cheaper ATmega8 microcontroller to Wiring. But instead of continuing the work on Wiring, they forked the project and renamed it Arduino.
The initial Arduino core team consisted of Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, Tom Igoe, Gianluca Martino, and David Mellis, but Barragán was not invited to participate.
Following the completion of the Wiring platform, lighter and less expensive versions were distributed in the open-source community.
It was estimated in mid-2011 that over 300,000 official Arduinos had been commercially produced, and in 2013 that 700,000 official boards were in users' hands.
In October 2016, Federico Musto, Arduino's former CEO, secured a 50% ownership of the company. In April 2017, Wired reported that Musto had "fabricated his academic record.... On his company's website, personal LinkedIn accounts, and even on Italian business documents, Musto was until recently listed as holding a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In some cases, his biography also claimed an MBA from New York University." Wired reported that neither University had any record of Musto's attendance, and Musto later admitted in an interview with Wired that he had never earned those degrees.
Around that same time, Massimo Banzi announced that the Arduino Foundation would be "a new beginning for Arduino." But a year later, the Foundation still hasn't been established, and the state of the project remains unclear.
The controversy surrounding Musto continued when, in July 2017, he reportedly pulled many Open source licenses, schematics, and code from the Arduino website, prompting scrutiny and outcry.
In October 2017, Arduino announced its partnership with ARM Holdings (ARM). The announcement said, in part, "ARM recognized independence as a core value of Arduino ... without any lock-in with the ARM architecture.” Arduino intends to continue to work with all technology vendors and architectures.
In early 2008, the five cofounders of the Arduino project created a company, Arduino LLC,to hold the trademarks associated with Arduino. The manufacture and sale of the boards was to be done by external companies, and Arduino LLC would get a royalty from them. The founding bylaws of Arduino LLC specified that each of the five founders transfer ownership of the Arduino brand to the newly formed company.
At the end of 2008, Gianluca Martino's company, Smart Projects, registered the Arduino trademark in Italy and kept this a secret from the other cofounders for about two years. This was revealed when the Arduino company tried to register the trademark in other areas of the world (they originally registered only in the US), and discovered that it was already registered in Italy. Negotiations with Gianluca and his firm to bring the trademark under control of the original Arduino company failed. In 2014, Smart Projects began refusing to pay royalties. They then appointed a new CEO, Federico Musto, who renamed the company Arduino SRL and created the website arduino.org, copying the graphics and layout of the original arduino.cc. This resulted in a rift in the Arduino development team.
In January 2015, Arduino LLC filed a lawsuit against Arduino SRL.
In May 2015, Arduino LLC created the worldwide trademark Genuino, used as brand name outside the United States.
At the World Maker Faire in New York on October 1, 2016, Arduino LLC co-founder and CEO Massimo Banzi and Arduino SRL CEO Federico Musto announced the merger of the two companies.
By 2017 Arduino AG owned many Arduino trademarks. In July 2017 BCMI, founded by Massimo Banzi, David Cuartielles, David Mellis and Tom Igoe, acquired Arduino AG and all the Arduino trademarks. Fabio Violante is the new CEO replacing Federico Musto, who no longer works for Arduino AG.