Dreaming small: Local electronics company making it big with tiny retro video game


AKRON, Ohio – A local electronics company is dreaming small and it is paying off in ways even they might not have ever imagined.

Tiny Circuits was created ten years ago by University of Akron graduate Ken Burns.

During that time, they have worked to create a tiny television set with a miniature remote, a fully functioning tiny arcade game with sounds and functioning miniature joystick, a miniature light saber and more.

For the company’s chief engineer, Ben Rose, the challenge, however, was to go even smaller.

“You know, something that’s the size of an actual key chain that you can really carry around,” said Rose.

After months of research and design, he helped create Thumby, a tiny, fully functioning, programmable, retro video game that is about the size of a thumb nail.

The device was created at a time when other electronics companies are competing to create devices that have larger screens.

“It’s definitely going a different direction from what kind of mainstream electronics are doing. We are definitely trying to do something just a little different, kind of unique,” said Rose.

To raise money for the project, the company took Thumby to the crowdfunding website Kickstarter hoping to raise $15,000.

Within two hours, they had already exceeded that goal.

Four days later, the amount that has been contributed is approaching $80,000.

“It is intriguing that people are so interested in the novelty of having tiny things. I kind of get it. It’s cool to have something so small that you can actually use and program,” said Jason Marcum, who is working to create programming that will be available for customers to download from Tiny Circuit’s website into Thumby.

Contributors can reserve their own Thumby in advance.

For others, the company’s newest tiny device will be available for sale starting from between $20 and $25 sometime in 2022.

The company has had several previous campaigns on Kickstarter, but none with the excitement generated by Thumby.

“We are really excited with the response. A lot of the times we are just designing a circuit board all day, that kind of thing, so doing something that’s this much fun and gets people excited is just great,” said Rose.

Rose tells FOX 8 it’s anyone’s guess how much smaller he might be compelled to try to go.

“We don’t know if we can go any smaller with this kind of thing. We are definitely going to see what we can do, though. Why not?”

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