'Twas a St. Paddy's Miracle, It Was!

Celebrating the 5 millionth SparkFun widget!

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St. Patrick’s Day 2015 (Tuesday, March 17th) will forever be known henceforth as the day that SparkFun built its 5 millionth widget. And yes...the world celebrated SparkFun’s momentous occasion in great style that day!

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We are forever grateful and humbled by the world’s response to this significant milestone in our ongoing story.

If I were a gambler and had been encouraged to place a bet on what SparkFun widget would be the 5 millionth to cross the finish line, I almost certainly would have put my money on either RedBoards, Pro Minis, Inventor’s Kits, Logic Level Converters, LilyPads, or Edison Blocks. Heck...I would’ve bet the farm that the 5 millionth would be anything BUT the one that eventually ended up pushing us past that arbitrarily important threshold. Behold, the majestic Five Millionth SparkFun Widget...

5 millionth widget - the crimp pin

Yes...that is a widget.

You: “I didn’t know SparkFun manufactures crimp pins!”

Us: “Well...technically...we don’t.”

You: “But you just implied that you built those crimp pins.”

Us: “Yes, we did say that. And, yes, we did build them...sort of.”

You: “Sounds like some funny math is going on here. You better share your definition of ‘built’ with me.”

A widget is a term that is ubiquitous in the world of business operations textbooks and typically refers to an abstract unit of production. Side note: how many times have you heard all about the successes and failures of the Acme Widget Corp. in a business class or operations workshop you’ve attended? The vague nature of this not-so-scientific idiom is certainly intentional. Businesses vary in the products and services they offer their customers. It probably goes without saying that SparkFun’s widgets are likely going to be quite different than those of Chipotle, New Belgium Brewing Company or OtterBox. Though we at SparkFun are, no doubt, huge fans of burritos, beer, and phone/tablet case widgets!

So what constitutes a widget for us? In most cases, it’s anywhere that we feel we can add value for folks (i.e. you) in need of a variety of bits & pieces to make their electronics projects come to life. With crimp pins, we purchase 20,000 of them at a time and they are delivered to us on a big reel that spans 22” in diameter. However, most projects don’t require that many crimp pins and, in general, most hobbyists don’t want to keep that many in their garages or workshops. So we chop that continuous spool of 20,000 crimp pins into 20-unit strips that are sized down to a number that we hope makes a lot more sense for any project you may be working on. It’s true: disassembly can sometimes add value in the same way that assembly does.

It’s still important, though, for us to delineate between the widgets that exist because of our applied creative design and those that simply get re-packaged in a more logical way for SparkFun’s customers. That is why we segment out all of our SparkFun Originals for your browsing enjoyment. Though even that curated list includes some widgets that were not assembled or manufactured here in lovely Niwot, CO. We clearly have more work to do so that our catalog can be further sliced and diced to enhance your sparkfun.com perusing experience.

But, alas, before we get too lost in the debate over what is and is not a widget, we should take a moment to celebrate the -- albeit arbitrary -- significant milestone of 5 million abstract units of production being built at SparkFun! Believe it or not, it takes a village to get 20 crimp pins delivered to your doorstep (alas crimpin' ain't easy). The SparkFun village is presently made up of 157 creative, hard-working, & passionate individuals who each play a unique role in making all of our widgets available for you and your upcoming project(s).

Casey at SparkFun

Casey, SparkFun Engineer, hard at work

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Canon - always keeping it real.

We do our darndest to make sure that every item in our catalog, the ones we personally assemble (or disassemble, as the case may be) and those we do not and even those in the skinniest section of our long tail, are delivered to you in a uniquely SparkFun way. And we hope that that way is one that fully expresses our desire to help you succeed in moving forward in your own personal electronics journey.

And in the name of that mission, we will continue building as many widgets as are needed to support everyone’s respective journeys, trying to find the best products to help people create their projects, and provide the best customer service and tech support we possibly can.

This week, specifically, we are building up as many Arduino widgets as we possibly can before they go on sale this Saturday in celebration of Arduino Day. Be sure to check back in then to pick up a few freshly built SparkFun widgets for your next project!

For now - thank you and sláinte!

Comments 3 comments

  • Ted M / about 9 years ago / 1

    Eh, so I didn't even know that you sold crimp pins, and now I find out that you've sold 5 million of them. That's a lot of crimp pins. I had no idea. But, how many header pins have you sold, I would think that would be more.

    • We haven't sold 5,000,000 crimp pins - a crimp pin just happened to be our 5,000,000th "widget."

    • We have quite a large variety of header pins that we are selling these days, across both individual unit SKUs and included in kits. And it would take a bit to determine how many total pins we've sold in total. But one fun data point:

      We've shipped out 212,789 of PRT-00116 in our history. So over 8.5 million header pins alone with that single SKU. :)

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