This originally sprang out of this Meta question, and then a quick discussion in chat. This question is designed to test the underlying assumption behind the Meta question.

It seems to some that open hardware is developing slower than open software is, though there are a non-negligible amount of projects. Going back in time, however, the rates might be different.

Does open hardware attract contributors in similar speed as open source software early on did? By "early on", I mean the 1980s, give or take.

  • We could ask ourselves how far is open hardware reaching after our definition? Only electrical engineering, or also the stuff here: thingiverse.com ?
    – Mnementh
    Jul 11, 2015 at 19:36
  • @Mnementh I really don't know where to draw the line.
    – HDE 226868
    Jul 11, 2015 at 19:47
  • 1
    You should draw one, based on that the answer might be different (I don't really know, I have no overview about hardware projects, but thingiverse is big, so that impacts the results).
    – Mnementh
    Jul 11, 2015 at 19:58
  • Do you have any source for "It seems"?
    – user490
    Jul 11, 2015 at 20:25
  • 2
    @EricGärtner Save the ubiquity of open software programs and the lack thereof of open hardware programs, I have nothing explicit. This is part of what is being questioned, though - that assumption.
    – HDE 226868
    Jul 11, 2015 at 21:16

1 Answer 1


Note that open hardware actually precedes open source software. In the age of analog electronics and early home computers when everyone could build a piece of hardware of equal or better quality than those available commercially, sharing schematics with the community through hobbyist groups and journals was a common practice. So if we consider modern open hardware community a successor of the old electronics community, the number of contributors it attracts has declined dramatically, and will probably not rise until small scale hardware manufacturing becomes feasible again.

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