Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for artists, designers, hobbyists and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. (from the Arduino website)
Two good sources for background to the this world-changing gadget are Jody Culkin’s “Arduino Comic Strip”.
Arduino is central to all the “Maker” and Fab Lab stuff: it’s what provides cheaper and easy-to-use computing power. Click the picture below for a PDF of a cartoon strip that introduces Arduino.
And lastly, of course, you can go straight to the horse’s mouth, the Arduino website: www.Arduino.cc.
And here are two of the original developers (Massimo Banzi and David Cuartielles) talking about the latest Arduino, the YÚN, a combined Arduino and Linux box: