The seeds of Instructables germinated at the MIT Media Lab as the future founders of Squid Labs built places to share their projects, connect with others, and make an impact on the world. One of these early places was a blog Zeroprestige, which was an open source hardware experiment for kitesurfing. Here they documented their hand-sewn kites, plywood boards, and other general mayhem that happens when PhDs and high winds collide.
As a result of freely sharing our work, we met a ton of great people, received great opportunities, and were smacked in the face with the need for a web-based documentation system.
Instructables became that documentation system in 2005, as an in-house project of Squid Labs. When they weren't solving interesting problems like solar panels for driveways, efficiently harnessing human power, or strain sensing ropes, you could find them sharing Instructables from the workshop. From cooking to 3d printing, to making just about anything fly, Instructables became the recipient of countless hours of tinkering, soldering, stitching, frying, and fun, making just about anything.
Instructables was officially spun out of Squid Labs in the summer of 2006, and has gone on to grow from a modest hundreds of projects to over one hundred thousand. The community that now calls the site home, is an amazing mix of wonder from around the world. Every day we continue to be amazed by the imagination, curiosity, and simple awesomeness of everyone who shares their creations with us on Instructables.
The Squid Labs founders, from left to right: Saul Griffith, Corwin Hardham, Eric Wilhelm, Colin Bulthaup, Dan Goldwater. Photo by Quinn Norton
Squid Labs Emeryville.
An important part of starting a business is to keep your tolerance for risk high by keeping your cost of living low. For us, this meant owning few or no cars and biking everywhere, cooking our own food rather than eating out and occasionally eating from dumpsters, getting furniture and tools for free from Craigslist, making everything else we needed, and for some of us, living in the shop.
First version of Instructables website.
Dan holding a prototype 30 sqm kitesurfing kite.
Some of the many kiteboard designs we tried.
Solar pavement prototype.
Rope and Sound, one of the early squid labs projects. A unique interactive musical harp using electronic sensing rope. Built for the the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's Extreme Textiles exhibit.
The Squid Labs booth at the first Maker Faire. Photo by gfixler
Stealth Electric Monster Chopper - the batteries on electric bikes are bulky, let's try putting them in the fork...
3D Chocolate Printer made from LEGO, instructable here.
Self Assembling Robots, instructable here.
Candle powered hot air balloon, instructable here.
Eric J. Wilhelm
Ph.D., Co-founding partner of Squid Labs, Founder of Instructables, Director Of Communities
Eric J. Wilhelm(ewilhelm)Ph.D., Co-founding partner of Squid Labs, Founder of Instructables, Director Of Communities
Eric earned his SB, SM, and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from MIT, where he developed methods to print electronics and micro-electromechanical systems using nanoparticles. Eric co-founded Squid Labs in order to have impact through early-stage innovation. He spun Instructables out of Squid Labs as an independent company, which he now runs with a passion. He loves building kite-powered contraptions, cooking breakfast, and demystifying technology so that even his Grandmother can use it.
Amber Hancock(amberrayh)Community Manager
Amber studied English and Religious studies in school and worked as a manager at the Oakland Zoo for 6 years. She's obsessed with all kinds of animals, a nature lover, a reader, and an amateur artist and writer.
Audrey Love(audreyObscura)Community Manager
Audrey is an artist, noisemaker, and crafter. She developed her skills as a photographer and videographer before an electric ukulele pushed her interests into the realm of music, sound, and interactivity. Currently she is working with the Robot Versus Future collective, and many other intersections of art, science, and electricity.
Bilal Ghalib(lamedust)Maker Advocate
Bilal Ghalib has drunk the DIY Koolaid. He has been helping cultivate the Maker Movement outside the western world in the Middle East through his project GEMSI.org. He's interested in personal fabrication, open source hardware and software and hackerspaces as an empowering ecosystem for entrepreneurship. He's currently working with Autodesk and Instructables.com sharing the new tools that the Autodesk Consumer Group is creating to help unlock the creativity in everyone. He wants to see a world with more creative people building, solving problems, and being lovely to each other.
Carley Jacobson(carleyy)Contest Manager
Carley Jacobson earned her BS in Computer Science and Visual Arts from Union College. She spent the better part of her time at school in the digital art lab building physical computing sculptures and in the sculpture lab welding steel and carving rocks. In her spare time you can catch her hot gluing shiny things like sparkles, beads, and glitter to what ever she can! Her art projects can be found here.
Celeste Maisel(Danger is my middle name)Contest Manager
Celeste is just a lady who likes making stuff. She got her degree in engineering but also enjoys cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among other things.
Christy Canida(canida)Sr. Mgr Partnerships
Christy holds an SB in Biology from MIT, and has previously worked in the biotech industry, academic research labs, and an aquarium. She helps connect passionate individuals with free and low-cost design tools and communities to enable them to explore and expand their creative potential, and drives educational initiatives for the Autodesk Consumer Group. She regularly speaks about community, social media, open-source hardware, and the future of creativity. She loves cutting things up, experimenting with food, and making costumes.
Dan Vidakovich(danvida)CNC Shop Monitor
I have my pilot's license and I like to hike (which I never do). If you don't find me using one of the CNC machines in the shop or teaching someone how to use it, you'll find me studying about one of those machines or something related to manufacturing.
Gabriel Patin(gabrieltaft)3D Printshop Monitor
Gabe graduated with a BS in Business Management in 2011. After a brief stint through China, Gabe lived in mammoth waiting for the snow to drop, on down days he created a new set of Tarrot Symbols called the Umiian Glyphs. Eventually, after discovering the maker movement, Techshop and how to manufacture a product, Gabe found himself on Pier 9 putting some machines together. Today, you can find him with his head stuck between a 3d printer and a lasercutter trying to figure out how to make chair pants a reality.
Gary Lu(thirtytwoutside)Interactive Designer
A former ski bum who at one point somehow managed to get his act together long enough to graduate from college with a degree in graphic design, Gary makes things look nice on the internet when not schlepping a pair of skis or snowboards between San Francisco (where he grew up) and Tahoe (what keeps him from growing up).
J Sassaman(jsass)Shop Manager || Creative Programs
J runs the workshops at Pier 9 and manages projects as part of the Creative Team. J has degrees in Fine Woodworking, Architecture, and Latin American History, and a real passion for the Guinness Book of World Records. She has an ongoing interest in the conception and construction of queerspace and the intersection of traditional craft with digital fabrication. J is learning to play the mandolin.
Jason "Quincy" Bucy(bakunin)Chief Software Engineer
Quincy earned his SB in Geology at MIT. He previously worked on cheminformatics, cookie-less click-tracking, and CMS customization & data migration. He likes photography, spoooky oontz, and overbuilt shade structures. He spends his spare time playing competitive softball, being a crazy uncle, and giving himself haircuts.
Jonathan Odom(JON-A-TRON)Content Creator
Jonathan is a full-time Designer at the Instructables Design Studio (best job ever). His background is in residential architecture, film set design, film animatronics, media arts, exhibit design, and electronics. He tends to focus on using 3D software to design projects and making them in the real world.
Laura Cochrane(xxlauraxx)DIY Editor
Laura's favorite quality in others is enthusiasm. She thinks Louis Pasteur put it well:
"The Greeks have given us one of the most beautiful words of our language, the word 'enthusiasm' â a God within. The grandeur of the acts of men are measured by the inspiration from which they spring. Happy is he who bears a God within."
--Louis Pasteur (who shares her birthday!)
Lisa WuSenior Software Engineer
Lisa graduated from UC Berkeley with an Architecture degree. She then went on to do software and web development. She has illustrated a published children's book. She does photography, sews, knits, crochets and paints with watercolors. She also creates unique ceramics in her own ceramic studio.
Noah Weinstein(noahw)Senior Creative Programs Manager
Noah founded and runs the Creative Programs at Pier 9. If you've got questions about the Pier 9 Workshop, Artist in Residence Program or Design Studio, he can help. He's worked in the community management, editorial and content production departments of Instructables since 2006, is a co-founder of SF Media Labs, the Editor of Extraordinary Projects by Ordinary People, and enjoys a good slice of pizza.
Phil Seaton(pseaton)Interactive Designer
Architect by training, Phil is a designer who codes. He abuses CNCs and industrial robots while building fine furniture, mixing digital fabrication and craftsmanship. He likes thinking about energy use with the lights on, building web-apps for obscure fabrication processes, and working to make Instructables more attractive, more fun, and more useful.
Randy Sarafan(randofo)Design Studio Manager
Randy is author of the internationally renowned book 62 Projects to Make with a Dead Computer, and Simple Bots. He is a Fellow with F.A.T. Lab and a co-founder of SF Media Labs. His work has appeared on the Today Show and Tonight Show. If there was an Afternoon Show, it would probably have appeared there too.
Sam Elder(seamster)Community Manager
Sam has been a counselor with at-risk youth, built cabinets, ran a city recreation department, and inspected assemblies of aerospace components. He makes fun and interesting things and occasionally restores vintage sewing machines.
Jason Poel Smith(DIY Hacks and How Tos)Community Manager
My name is Jason Poel Smith I am a Community Manager here at Instructables. In my free time, I am an Inventor, Maker, Hacker, Tinker, and all around Mad Genius
Sean Cauley(sdcauley)Midwest Sales Manager
My love of constructing and de-constructing things goes all the way back to my first Lego set. Truth be told, I'm slightly better at deconstructing, than I am constructing, but I'm working on it. These days I spend most of my time constructing toys for my 4-month old daughter. I'm still waiting on the Instructable that teaches me how to get her to sleep through the night. Anyone...
Thomas J. Nolan(tjnrancor)East Coast Sales Manager
The creative audience of the Instructables community paired with the Fortune 50 muscle of Autodesk make it a special place to work. I learn something new and am part of something special every single day here.
Troy Hawkins(tomatoskins)Community Manager
If it's fun, Troy is there. Whether it's in the garage covered in saw dust, working on restoring his '69 VW Bug (that has left him stranded on numerous occasions) drumming along to some classic rock, or SCUBA diving around the world, he enjoys it all. In his spare time, he likes to study to one day be a mechanical engineer.
Amanda Ghassaei(amandaghassaei)Software Engineer
Amanda recently earned her BA in Physics from Pomona College. After spending some time in the lab researching topics in nanotechnology, she decided to use her scientific prowess to build custom electronic instruments and other forms of interactive media. Check out her custom electronic instruments here.
Angie Chua(angelabchua)Sales Manager
Being a fan of the site for years makes working for Instructables a dream. Before coming here, I was a sales director in the pharmaceutical industry for 5 years, and have been in sales one way or another for most of my career.... but my true passion is food. And when I say "food," what I really mean is "eating." And when I say "eating," what I really mean is "stuffing my face."
Bradley Powers(bradpowers)Instructables Intern
(Summer 2008) Brad is an Engineering Major at the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering and is designing his own curriculum in robotics. He likes robots, helicopters, robot helicopters, sushi, and MINIs. Brad also enjoys making things out of metal. Especially robots.
Colin Bulthaup(colin)Co-founding partner of Squid Labs, co-founder of Kovio, CEO of Potenco
Colin earned his SB and MNG in Electrical Engineering from MIT. He did his Masters work at the MIT Media Lab developing processes and materials to print transistors and later founded Kovio to commercialize this technology. He loves taking pictures, making laser-cut gifts, and good food.
Corwin Hardham(corwin)Ph.D., Squid Labs partner
After designing snowboards and almost becoming a professional windsurfer, Corwin earned his PhD from Stanford developing vibration isolation control systems and actuators for the LIGO project. Corwin loves nearly impossible mechanical design challenges and riding his bike to the beach to find big surf and strong wind.
Dave Worley(dworley)UI Engineer
Dave Worley has been developing websites since 1998. He was responsible for the visible elements of the site and making sure the user interface is intuitive and error free. He has only broken the site two three seven times so far.
Eric Nguyen(nagutron)Instructables UI Engineer
(2007-2009) Eric earned his BS in Computer Science at Harvard and has been building UI toolkits for the web ever since. Eric loves community-building, loud music, and industrial design.
Geo Homsy(geo)Ph.D., Squid Labs partner
Geo earned his SM and PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, working on biological computing. He co-founded Permabit, and has appeared multiple times on Scrapheap Challenge (Junkyard Wars) as a member of the 2000 Finalist team, the NERDS. Geo loves robots that drop your jaw and making physics and all things mechanical accessible.
Jacob A. Rogers(shadylogic)Community Support
Jake is in charge of shipping and ordering for Instructables. He has a passion for boxes and postal codes. During his free time Jake memorizes international customs restrictions and import law. He spent 7 years t raining with Scottish monks learning the ancient technique of uline-justu, or "The Art of Sellotape". Jake once mailed a package to himself that arrived before it was sent. Wisely, he didn't sign for it.
James studied Electronic Engineering at the University of Surrey, England. He loves climbing, walking, electronics, cooking, woodwork, power tools, clever design and bad puns.
Jessie Phillips(jessiep)Instructables Intern
(Summer 2007) Jessie Phillips is a graduate student in the designed objects program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She loves sharp x-acto knives. And puppies. But not together.
Matt Borgatti(bofthem)Instructables Intern 2007
Matt is a graduate of RISD who likes inventing and mechanical design. He recently worked in the special effects industry (he had a hand in Snakes on a Plane and Alien vs Predator 2) and has his own IMDB page. He makes guitars (homemade Guitar Hero controller Instructable is coming soon) and etches brass.
Matthew (Tadashi) Ebisu(Shift21)
Matthew Tadashi Ebisu is a dedicated maker, hacker and independent researcher. Studied sociology and cognitive systems at UBC, he is an avid enthusiast of human robot interaction and enjoys spending his spare time analyzing how people connect with technology. Readily enjoys the art of paper-crafting and prop making, he loves making larger-than-life scale models. Actively participates in Maker Faires and is happily married to PIXAR.
Mitch is a Designer, hacker and artist who joined Squid Labs as their first intern in 2006. Lending a hand wherever needed, Mitch has since been an employee of nearly all of the Squid Labs companies including Instructables, Potenco, OptiOpia and Makani Power. His current interests include smart geometry, bicycles and cocktail robotics.
Oliver studied medicine and biomedical engineering in the UK before realizing he'd much rather get excited and make things than pretend to be a grown-up. Highlights of his career have included delivering babies in hospitals, throwing axes on stage and wrangling ferrets in the name of neuroscience. He spends his spare time crawling through caves, dancing the Lindy Hop and accidentally gluing himself to his chair.
Rachel McConnell(rachel)Instructables Senior Engineer (2006-2012)
Rachel currently builds unique physical objects as DrShiny. She is a cofounder of Noisebridge, a San Francisco hackerspace, and president of Ace Monster Toys, a hackerspace in Oakland. She wearsfunnyhats and t-shirts, eats suspiciousfood, and doesn'tsleep.
Ryan McKinley(ryan)Squid Labs partner
Ryan earned his SM degree in Media Arts & Science from MIT, working at the MIT Media Lab building open tools to monitor governments. He developed the initial Instructables platform, building upon his experience with The Center for Land Use Interpretation and other mapping systems. Ryan loves independent radio, kittens, and living on the fly.
Sam Calisch(calischs)Instructables Intern 2011
Sam earned a BA in math at Grinnell College and brought home the bacon working on a farm, managing a public bikes program, and running a handyman business. In his free time he likes to combine all of the above, making awesome stuff to eat, wear, ride, watch, launch, play with, live in, and otherwise augment his life.
Saul Griffith(saul)Ph.D., Co-founding partner of Squid Labs
Saul earned his SM and PhD from MIT working on self-assembly where he built electromechanical and mechanical self assembling devices. He loves cars without computers, designing kites, and a differentbicycle for each day of the week. Saul was named a 2007 MacArthur Fellow.
Sarah James(scoochmaroo)Editor, Living
Sarah James earned her MFA in Design and Technology for the Theatre from UT-Austin where her favorite class was maskmaking. Her lifelong dream has been to make cool stuff. She just can't believe her luck.
Sean Cusack(sheetmetalalchemist)Shop Manager
Sean started his own company in 2010 named Sheet Metal Alchemist. Sean's intent was to fuse his background in chemistry, materials science, and design with his passion in metalworking to create lively, functional art pieces for restaurants, corporations, and special events. He was traditionally a tube and sheet metal worker, but was able to start his own company based on his experience in waterjet, shopbot, laser, and woodshop toolsets. He was an instructables.com resident artist in early 2013 where he made Zolterno (a fire breathing fortune teller). Now, he happily manages the Pier 9 shop's day to day operations while continuing to build crazy custom pieces using the coolest materials and tools he can find. He likes to make things that shoot giant fireballs, and dreams to be a Britney Spears backup dancer some day.
Tim showed up at MIT begging for old robots he could teach to paint. Before long he had built the first starch-based 3D printing system, and co-founded Z-Corp to commercialize the technology. His current goal is to document and record the world's ancient and traditional methods - known as heirloom technologies. Tim loves simple living using stuff he finds for free, innertubes, and a boat for eachday of the week.
Wade Wilgus(wilgubeast)Senior Editor
Wade is a former Oakland middle school English teacher who appreciates a good trebuchet almost as much as a well-constructed sentence or a properly placed hyphen between compound modifiers. He swears that project-based learning and state-mandated curriculum can coexist peacefully.
Will Doenlen(doenlen)Software Engineer
Will earned his SB in Chemistry from MIT. He's worked on many things, ranging from chemical synthesis to computer-generated poetry. In his spare time he cooks, learns foreign languages, and practices Muay Thai.
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