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SparkFun Electronics

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SparkFun Electronics (sometimes known by its abbreviation, SFE) is an electronics retailer in Niwot, Colorado, United States. It manufactures and sells microcontroller development boards and breakout boards. All products designed and produced by SparkFun are released as open-source hardware.

SparkFun Electronics
IndustryElectronics manufacturing and education
HeadquartersNiwot, Colorado, United States
Key people
(CEO) Glenn Samala 2016 - Present[1] Nathan Seidle 2003 - 2016[2]
Number of employees
150+ (2015) [3]



SparkFun Electronics was founded in 2003 by Nathan Seidle when he was a Junior at University of Colorado Boulder. Its first products were Olimex printed circuit boards.[4] The name 'SparkFun' came about because one of the founders of SparkFun was testing a development board, and sparks flew out; Fun was chosen because the company's self-stated aim is to educate people about electronics. In January 2011, an education department was formed to outreach to local schools, hackerspaces, and events.

Open-source hardwareEdit

SparkFun's Inventor's Kit, v4.0

During the Open Source Hardware summit in October 2010, SparkFun was one of the contributors in drafting the first OSHW definition.[5][6] All products designed and produced by SparkFun are released as Open-source hardware (OSHW),[7] with schematics, EAGLE files, and datasheets posted on each product page. Product images are licensed under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0[8]



This contest was based upon violating the 2nd and 3rd laws of robotics, where a fully automated robot would destroy itself after interacting with props and objects in a performance. The competition was retired in 2011.[9][10][11]


AVC 2012

The Autonomous Vehicle Challenge is a recurring contest held annually by SparkFun. The objective is to build an automated vehicle that can circumnavigate a course without human interaction. As of 2015, aerial vehicles are not allowed.[12][13][14]


SparkFun has become one of the favoured suppliers for those without mainstream suppliers as well as the increasingly popular "Maker" community, particularly for the Arduino and related devices.[15]

Whilst many of the non-component products sold by SFE are from other manufacturers, it does manufacture and sell some of its own complete products:

  • The Port-o-Rotary phone[16]
  • Picture Frame Tetris[17]
  • Giant NES controller

Legal disputesEdit

Trademark dispute with SPARC InternationalEdit

On October 16, 2009, SPARC International sent a Cease and Desist letter demanding SparkFun stop using the "SparkFun" name and immediately transfer ownership of to SPARC International. The letter claimed the SparkFun trademark was too visually and phonetically similar for companies in the same industry.[18][19]

The two companies signed a trademark coexistence agreement on April 2, 2010.[20]

Fluke trademark infringementEdit

On March 7, 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection informed SparkFun that a shipment of multimeters meant for sale on SparkFun's website had been seized. The Port of Denver deemed that the yellow protective jackets on the imported multimeters too closely resembled the trade dress of Fluke Corporation's competing multimeters. Rather than pay the cost of shipping the imported multimeters back, SparkFun chose to have them destroyed.[21] In a letter to SparkFun, Fluke announced that they would be supplying the company with a shipment of genuine Fluke products and equipment as a gesture of goodwill and support for the maker movement, which SparkFun accepted.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ History of SparkFun Electronics.
  5. ^ Seidle, Nate. "Open Source Hardware". SparkFun Electronics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  6. ^ Grady, Emcee. "OSHW Definition V1.0". SparkFun Electronics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  7. ^ Ellzey, curtis. "SparkFun Electronics and Open Source Hardware". Engineering TV. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  8. ^ Clark, Chris. "Open Source ALL the Things!". SparkFun Electronics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  9. ^ Grady, Emcee. "Antimov!". SparkFun Electronics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  10. ^ Riddle, Warren. "Self-Destructing Robot Carnage at the Antimov Competition". Switched. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Grady, Emcee. "Announcing the 2012 Autonomous Vehicle Competition". SparkFun Electronics. Retrieved 30 April 2012.
  13. ^ Olsen, Anton (14 March 2011). "SparkFun To Host 3rd Annual Autonomous Vehicle Competition". Wired. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Noble, Joshua (2009). Programming Interactivity. O'Reilly. p. 399. ISBN 0-596-15414-3.
  16. ^ Biggs, John (August 24, 2006). "Answer the Phone, and Amaze Your Friends". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  17. ^ Yamamoto, Mike (May 13, 2007). "A wall version of Tetris for the ultimate fan". Crave. CNet. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  18. ^ Seidle, Nate. "SparkFun Gets a Cease and Desist Letter". SparkFun. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  19. ^ Marco, Meg. "Trademark Wars: SPARC International Tells Small Electronics Website To Stop Existing". Consumerist. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  20. ^ Seidle, Nate. "Coexistence Agreement In Place". SparkFun. Retrieved 8 January 2016.
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Fluke Responds to Trademark Problems - News - SparkFun Electronics". Retrieved 2015-12-07.

External linksEdit