Embedded Office Blog

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by Andrea Dorn

Today Embedded Systems are an indispensible part. They are used in totally different products in many different branches: in cars and airplanes, in consumer appliances like smart phones and coffee machines, in industrial robots, in medical devices and many others.

What exactly is an embedded system?

The term embedded system means an electronic calculator or computer which is embedded in a technical context. Or in other words Embedded Systems are application specific computer systems that are embedded in a larger device.

Embedded Systems take over either monitoring, control or regulation functions or are responsible for data or signal processing.

The first embedded system?

The first well known embedded system was already used in the Minuteman-missile. The application was a path-finding-algorithm which enabled the missile an independent maneuvering after a single programming. The first launch of a Minuteman already took place in September 15th, 1959.

Another remarkable embedded system was the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) for navigation. It was used to collect and to provide real-time flight information, as well as to control all navigation functions of the Apollo spacecraft automatically. It was developed in 1961 for the Apollo program, headed by Charles Stark Draper at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. The software of the AGC was written in assembly language. There was a simple operating system called EXEX. EXEX was able to run up to seven processes (weighted by priority) simultaneously in a non preemptive Multitasking process. Each process had thereby to return its control to EXEX periodically.

This shows that with the first well known embedded systems also the first mission critical embedded application has been developed. And moreover in those systems a small operating system was already used. Granted, to that time the embedded system once was considered as one of the riskiest component.

Today the embedded market is one of the fastest growing and most innovative in the world.

EXEX is not known anymore but sooner or later anyone who wants to develop embedded software must be familiar with embedded operating systems. These are usually highly specialized operating systems such as µC/OS-II or FreeRTOS but often the embedded versions of standard operating systems (Embedded Linux or XP Embedded). The list of possible Operating Systems is long.

Commonly used programming languages for the development of the corresponding software are C or C++. Due to the limited resources which are available for embedded systems (little memory, limited computing power) the software development in this area is a particular challenge although the programming itself is "usual".

A kernel typically provides application developers with a variety of other services intended to aid in the writing of robust multi-task applications.

Many embedded systems are safety critical systems, that means, when an error occurs, the life of human beings are in danger. This is the case with medical devices such as pacemakers or controllers in airplanes such as chassis controls.

This is where we – the writers of this Blog – are placed. We develop Software for safety related systems.

Why we started this Blog

In our customer projects we are faced with a lot of challenges.

In this blog we want to discuss typical ones we often deal with.

We would like you to take part in those discussions or perhaps just use the information for your next project.

Our goal is to share information since sharing information builds up a relationship. Working together and finding solutions for a problem somebody has. This causes a feeling of happiness resulting in a long cooperative relationship.

My colleagues and I like to talk to like-minded people and request the dialogue for an honest and sometimes funny communication.

And that's why we are here. My colleagues are software developer so that most of their topics will be about software with a special emphasize on safety. I feel comfortable with business topics which arise in my daily work in the embedded world.

Who we are

We are Embedded Office’s Bloggers. The team of Embedded Office continuously works in safety related customer projects in products for the medical, automotive, aerospace, industrial and agricultural market segments.

Michael is one of our two CEOs at Embedded Office. During meetings with Michael you can always hear the laughter through the whole office. Michael is very enthusiastic and has an innovative spirit.

First he wants to find out what we need and how something is working, than he tries different ways how the challenge can be solved and in a third step he automates it perfectly.

You can meet Michael in the digital world at LinkedIN and XING. But also personally at the Embedded World and some safety related events in Germany.

Wolfgang has a high affinity for flying. Therefore, it is not surprising that he has a self made cockpit for a flight simulation for an F16 fighter jet at home!

Wolfgang is very helpful and committed. He is our safety engineer and thus a very precise man. You can meet Wolfgang in the digital World at LinkedIn.

Fridolin is always up for jokes and spends his free time with his family and many friends. He plays transverse flute in the local music society and is very well known in his Hometown.

Fridolin is one of my most experienced colleagues with many years of experience in various companies in the medical, aerospace and automotive industries.

Matthias loves freshly baked bread and has for this purpose a wood-fired oven in his kitchen! And not only that. He has a huge pot which he hangs over the fire to cook goulash soup for a whole company. Perhaps I should mention that Matthias is a giant ;-)

Matthias is my youngest colleague. He has a really high perception and quickly graspes the concept.

And me. Andrea: I am a typical woman. I like shoes, handbags and glittering fingernails. But I am also technology affine.

Recently I have announced war to all the paper. The digital world creates space for other beautiful things. And my home is a smart home with fantastic opportunities ;-).

I am responsible for our Sales and Marketing Activities. You can meet me in the digital world at LinkedIN and XING. But also personally at the Embedded World and some safety related events in Germany.

What is not the issue here?

Oxford English. We are German who use their school English to communicate with the world. And the world is the reason why we decided to write our articles in English language. As the safety blogger community does not stop at the border.


The articles of this Blog will handle topics about embedded software and the world around it and we want to motivate you to follow it and to take part in our discussions. Have Fun.

Our blogs are all very well researched. This needs time. We expect to have 1 or 2 articles a month.

Do you want to be part of our blogger community? Register here and be always informed about new articles straightaway.

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We are the Blogger:

Andrea Dorn

After my study of industrial engineering I worked at an engineering service provider. As team leader and sales representative, I was responsible for customers from aviation and mechanical engineering. I am part of the Embedded Office team since 2010. Here I am responsible for the Sales and Marketing activities. I love being outside for hiking, riding or walking no matter the weather.

Fridolin Kolb

I have more than 20 years experience in developing safety critical software as developer and project manager in medical, aerospace and automotive industries. I am always keen on finding a solution for any problem. The statement “This won’t never work”, will never work for me. In my spare time You can find me playing the traverse flute in our local music association, spending time with my family, or in a session as member of our local council and member of the local church council. So obviously I am lacking the ability to say “No” to any challenge ;-).

Michael Hillmann

I have been working for 20 years in safety critical software development. Discussing and solving challenges with customers and colleagues excites me again and again. In my spare time I can be found while hiking, spending time with my family, having a sauna with friends - or simply reading a good book.

Wolfgang Engelhard

I’m a functional safety engineer with over 10 years of experience in software development. I’m most concerned with creating accurate documentation for safety critical software, but lately found joy in destruction of software (meaning I’m testing). Spare time activities range from biking to mentoring a local robotics group of young kids.

Matthias Riegel

Since finishing my master in computer science (focus on Embedded Systems and IT-Security), I’ve been working at Embedded Office. Before that, I worked with databases, and learned many unusual languages (like lisp, clojure, smalltalk, io, prolog, …). In my spare time I’m often on my bike, at the lathe or watching my bees.