Back in the fall of 1998, LEGO released Mindstorms, a hardware plus software kit designed to encourage teenagers to create customizable robots with LEGO tools. The initiative, born out of a collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was expected to be the saving grace for the company. LEGO had fallen on hard times — a rough financial patch that hindsight’s clearer analysis has attributed to a number of high-profile management missteps that gave center stage to “hip” designs rather than the company’s bread-and-butter base of family users and hobbyists.
So imagine their surprise when the Mindstorms kit took off with adult model builders — not teens — who promptly cracked open the kit’s proprietary microprocessor and hacked the software’s source code. Three especially industrious Danish students went so far as to reverse-engineer the code to drive a robot dog that they created from LEGO bricks. They called the dog Grrr.Read More