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Gordon Williams is a software developer living near Oxford in the UK. He has had an interest in making software and hardware gadgets since he was a child. As a teenager he built a car with his father and started work on the music visualisation projects R2 and R4. After studying computing at Cambridge University, where he met his wife Marianne, he worked as a software developer and consultant for companies such as Altera, Microsoft, Lloyds Register, Nokia and Collabora. He continues to enjoy combining hardware and software in his free time and last year replaced his car's engine and made his own ECU.
In 2010 he took the decision to stop full-time work and focus on making and selling the Morphyre Music Visualiser - which is now used in clubs worldwide and is also licensed as a Digital Signage Solution. In 2013 he started a KickStarter for Espruino, which raised just over £100,000. Since then he's been working full-time on improving Espruino.
Using an Interpreter
Gordon has worked with microcontrollers as a hobby since he was 16 (starting with PIC microcontrollers) and was hooking things up to his PC's printer port even before that. When cheap ARM microcontroller boards started appearing he purchased them immediately and has continued to experiment with new boards as they have come out. However while the tools have improved massively in the last few years (especially with the Arduino IDE) some of the original problems have not fully gone away. Development tools are still quite big and take a lot of time to install and learn. For many users, by the time they've got a light flashing their enthusiasm has waned and they don't use the board again.
The Event-Based Model
Using an event-based model has several great advantages:
- It means different bits of code doing different jobs can run together without interfering;
- It's more intuitive because it mimics the way people naturally describe tasks in the real world ('When it's dark turn on the light' - not 'Is it dark? Is it dark? Is it dark? Yes. Turn on the light!');
- It's a good fit for a Scratch-like graphical programming environment, and
- It cuts power consumption drastically so it's great for battery life.
The use of the event-based model for microcontrollers is a trend which is definitely taking off. As well as Espruino, a board called Tessel is currently under development and the use of node.js on Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone and others has been gaining in popularity recently as well.
The Espruino Board
Gordon Williams on LinkedIn
Projects of Interest
- R2 Music Visualiser
- R4 Music Visualiser
- Morphyre Music Visualiser
- 3D Engine for Bio-Next's Molecule Visualisation
- Final year university 3D Scanner Project (2004)
For other information see:
- Original Espruino on KickStarter
- Espruino Pico on KickStarter
- Espruino FAQ page
- Tutorials and Projects
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