It's time to clear up a few misconceptions.
I'm sure Hernando would agree with me.
Wiring was created in 2003 as the Masters degree thesis of Hernando Barragán of Colombia, while he was studying at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea (IDII) in Italy.
Massimo Banzi (a "founder" of Arduino) was a supervisor for his thesis, along with Casey Reas (of Processing).
After graduating with distinction in 2004, Hernando continued development of Wiring and moved it over to the Universidad de Los Andes in Colombia.
In 2005, Massimo and David Cuartielles started Arduino in Italy using the Wiring software as a base. They developed some cheaper hardware, and for the last 6 years, David Mellis has been regularly updating the Arduino source with the additions made to Wiring.
There is little to no recognition for Wiring by the Arduino team. It's pretty sad really. In fact, the new Arduino 1.0 (beta) version splash/about page has removed all mention of Wiring. People are often confused what the relationship is between Arduino and Wiring. It was only recently that people have spoken up that there should be recognition for Wiring and that's why you hear about it.
- Hernando created Wiring as a thesis project in 2003, and has been developing it ever since.
- Massimo, his advisor from IDII, independently started Arduino in 2005 and used Wiring as the starting point.
- The Arduino hardware was cheaper, and that's partially why it gained its popularity.
- Arduino is 100% about community.
- People flock to Arduino because of the community, the cheap hardware, and the software and concepts that were originally developed by Hernando Barragan, Casey Reas and Ben Fry.
I hope that gives some insight into the difference between Arduino and Wiring.
With regard to the early boards, they were expensive, indeed. But now Wiring has new boards available. Have a look:
Even so, you don't need to have a Wiring board to use the Wiring IDE. It supports other boards directly, and will be adding more soon. So you can use your existing Arduino board with the Wiring IDE, if you wish.
Try it out! http://wiring.org.co/download/
P.S. Sure would be nice if this could be made a "sticky post"!