On January 29th 2022, the “info-beamer project” is 10 years old.
When I started info-beamer in 2012, I never imagined that it would be a serious business and in use all over the world 10 years later. After all, info-beamer was started as a for-fun project for a small conference in my hometown Karlsruhe.
We have a yearly hacker meetup and I was volunteering together with my (now) wife to provide information to visitors about when the next talk starts, what’s going on on twitter and other semi-relevant information on a projector (called a “beamer” in German). Here’s the email asking whether or not I was interested in running the “infobeamer” aka the projector showing such information:
Do you want to operate the infobeamer at the gpn this year? with announcements of presentations and anything else you can think of that might be fun?
[…] and i had already asked […wife…], if she would like to run the info-team together with you (that would be infobeamer and something like paper-timetables etc.) - that would be great!
Yes. […wife…] and I want to do this.
I wanted to have a way to change content without starting the player software and modifying everything in real-time and didn’t really find anything to do that. So I began coding in January 2012. Here’s the very first bits of code I wrote just two days after the above email exchange. And a photo from the event in June of 2012 with the software running on a public display the first time:
(Image by Flo Köhler CC BY 2.0)
The white canvas on the right is showing info-beamer content. Here’s a close-up picture of content shown:
(Image by Flo Köhler CC BY 2.0)
Back then, info-beamer was still running on a normal beefy desktop PC. People at the conference enjoyed the content and I was running similar setups at other conferences.
In February 2012 (so one month after starting work on the info-beamer software) the very first Pi was released. At some point people started asking if info-beamer would run on the Raspberry Pi as well:
Later that day I ordered a Pi and tweeted about it:
A bit later (around January of 2013) a first version, including hardware video acceleration, was working. You can check out the old video showing a demo of this on YouTube:
I was freelancing at the time and decided to sell info-beamer for the Pi as a commercial program online to see if people were willing to pay for it. Here’s the very first website offering the Pi version to the world:
Running this version required in-depth technical skills as you have to setup your own Linux system and then implement a mechanism to distribute content to it. Seeing the general interest in a Raspberry Pi based digital signage solution I made this decision to see how this could be made easier. Preferably in a way to still retains all the flexibility of standalone software, but with a nice web UI for people that just need to get things done and rightfully don’t care exactly how everything works. The operating system (info-beamer OS) was started in late 2013 while website development started early 2014. Here’s the very first internally working, but very empty, website version:
And a screenshot from one of the first public releases in late 2014:
Since then info-beamer has been growing constantly, had 12 major OS releases and countless website and feature improvements. Thanks for using info-beamer.com and on to the next 10 years