How will the Maker Movement break out?

The news that littleBits — a Maker startup which sells “mashup” hardware electronics kits for children of all ages — got a $3.65M investment from True Ventures and others was terrific.  And well-deserved.  Ayah Beir is a visionary CEO in the mold of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, although, to be fair, the canvas seems smaller.

And that’s the problem.  It’s terrific for a Maker startup to get funded, and to get interest from the likes of us VCs.

But I keep coming back to an analogy.  1977 or so.  The Homebrew Computer Clubs are all over.  Hackers are hacking hardware and software.  Scoffers are scoffing that it’s just a hobby.

Two things happened: The Steves built the Apple II, and Dan Bricklin built VisiCalc.

The original “killer app”.  Suddenly the $2000 price tag of an Apple II didn’t seem so egregious.  Suddenly the work of getting an Apple II to work didn’t seem so onerous.  It had a purpose.

I love littleBits, and I love kids and the hacking imagination.  I don’t think it’s the purpose of Making.

I don’t think 3-d printers are the purpose of Making either.  They’re very cool, and they are a kind of vivid logo for the movement.  But they are not what will make Making indispensable, that will make the costs not seem egregious, what will make the set-up not seem onerous.

What will?  Don’t know.  Looking for it.

Thoughts?

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