Artwork implying World Wide Web Architecture

Embedded Systems Series

Back to home page Back to articles page
What is an Embedded SystemAuthor

An embedded system is a very small computer that gets buried in a larger system.

  • One example would be the small computers that control the engine in an automobile.
  • Another would be the tags that manufacturers attach to shipping containers

The term embedded systems is not in many job descriptions today, but embedded systems will strongly influence the architecture of most of tomorrow's software development.

Embedded systems have a few common traits

  • Small memory footprint or at least limited memory
  • Real time requirements. They respond to events in the real world. They have to respond within some small time limit or their response is useless. This is also called event driven programming

Analysts who write specifications for embedded systems very often use state machines to specify system behaviour

Arthur Kevin McGrath


October 25, 2006


The author is an engineer with the consulting firm, Contract Engineers. He has consulted and lectured extensively since 1987 about the infrastructure that makes electronic commerce possible

Photograph of the Arthur Kevin McGrath


To schedule a speaker at your location, write
To inquire about consulting for your company, write
To inquire about training for your company, write