What is an Embedded Software?
When we talk about embedded software, we mean software that is already installed on a hardware system. This type of software is usually designed to perform a specific function, although the same piece of hardware can contain several programs of this type integrated. Any type of technology that has circuit boards and electronic chips usually has software integrated. They can be digital watches, calculators, mobile phones and many other devices. These systems enable many advanced features that are common in modern devices.
Like many devices within the world of innovative technology, the earliest forms of embedded software were developed for military applications. American devices used different types of these embedded systems in their space and aeronautical programs in the 1930s and 1960s.
These early systems were usually plugged into other components and had a fairly high failure rate. It wasn’t until the 1960s that this type of software evolved to a point where it was useful to normal people.
In the late 1970s, the first standards for an embedded chip with embedded software were developed and commercialized. It acted like a small computer, and could collect, save, and send data, as well as process its own information.
With these little devices it was possible to write a single program, upload it to the chip, and then have it execute it when it received the correct input. By the late 1980s, virtually every form of consumer electronic device had some form of chip with an embedded program.
In the years that have followed, the cost of producing these tiny microcontrollers has fallen to ridiculous numbers. As a result, they are in almost every electronic device, and each of the chips has one or more built-in programs. They are even in objects that people would not suspect, such as toasters, electric fans or toys.
Regardless of the type of software where it is integrated, they usually work in the same way. The chip receives data input from the connected device. The software reads this input and assesses whether it needs to be activated. If so, it runs your program and outputs the results. These results can go to the user or to other software. Today the programs that are integrated into computers can be authentic computer systems on their own.
In a normal computer or machine connected to a normal computer, there are relatively few pieces of embedded software. Computer systems typically have a set of parts that control boot procedures and major hardware functions. However, as many complex devices emerge, embedded software is being replaced by off-the-shelf computerized systems.