In 1968, when I got my first job in computing, we didn't call that room full of computers with a disk drive the size of a Volkswagen an embedded system. But it was. I worked for Collins Radio and what we were working on was a message-switching system. Today, however, that same computing power could easily fit in a 1U rackmount box or be implemented on a Netwinder or Cobalt Qube.
The point is that calling a system embedded doesn't have anything to do with its size, but whether it performs some dedicated task. Besides the changes in size over the years, there have been cost changes. While my microwave doesn't have an embedded processor in it, most, do as do most traffic light controllers and virtually every printer in the world.
Doing an inventory of what is around me at home, here is my list of things that I know have embedded processors: Palm organizer, cell phone, FAX/answering machine, scanner, digital camera, video camera, dish TV receiver, VCR, stereo, laser printer, DSL modem car. At work I can add microwave, label maker, phone system, voice-mail system and conference phone.
This doesn't count other items that most likely have them as well: disk drives, tape drives, monitors, TV and clock radio. This is a big change from 1968. With $50 (US) products out there in the embedded market, there is a lot more to consider than just making a product that works.
We want to help you take the next step. Hardware costs have fallen dramatically, making it possible to put computers into relatively inexpensive products. Efficient code can reduce RAM and ROM requirements. But there are additional costs besides hardware. The OS for your product, development time, development tools and licensing all cost money. Shipping a product with bugs can cost you money and reputation.
With that I'd like to introduce a Linux Journal supplemental issue which will hit the streets October 10, 2000: Embedded Linux Journal. In this special issue you can look forward to conversations about:
industry news—emphasizing open-source software solutions
reviews of products to reduce development time and improve testing
case studies that will save you time
design solutions that show you why embedded Linux is the cost-effective answer
hardware vs. software considerations
Current Linux Journal subscribers who live within North America will receive this special supplement at no additional charge. This issue will also be heavily distributed at upcoming trade shows, other industry events, and to targeted mailing lists.
We're certain you'll enjoy this upcoming Embedded Linux Journal supplement. We look forward to your feedback!
Phil Hughes Publisher