Decades ago, young men standing in garages building circuit boards launched the personal computer revolution. Are we about to come full circle as a device the size of your hand and the cost of a cheap lunch offers easy programming, decent power and Linux?
Already a Sell Out!
Hope you were up early if you wanted a Raspberry Pi, as the initial production run of the US$ 35 computers has sold out within hours. The partner websites were knocked out by demand and huge interest generated across all the tech sites, follow the official Twitter account for the latest news.
If you're wondering what the heck a Raspberry Pi is, it is basically a very small computer that connects to a HD or normal TV and a USB keyboard to provide a cheap computing experience. Packing a Broadcom BCM2835 700MHz ARM11 processor, 256MB of RAM, a LAN connector and audio out, the computer has a full desktop experience, can produce HD video and is an impressive bit of kit that can be fully programmed via an array of languages.
The Raspberry Pi puts computing power in the hands of anyone with a TV
The British company responsible for the Pi comes from the long tradition of BBC, Sinclair and other small computers and Pi is designed to an easily portable unit that could put computers in places they currently aren't, can make them disposable assets, accessible to children, schools and tinkerers.
A Fruity Future
Clearly overwhelmed by the early success, the developers are looking to expand production while the possibilities for such a cheap, accessible device. While the early interest is in the hardware and the novelty of it. The next step will be to promote appropriate languages and get it into education that can motivate a next generation of coders.
And, if it becomes a hardware configurable device, budding engineers can use it to control all manner of electronics, build their own equipment and encourage further experimentation. This isn't to say that schools aren't doing this already, but the Raspberry Pi could make it so much more accessible.
The army of homebrew coders, so used to hacking into other proprietary systems to have their fun could also claim this device as their own. They could use it to create all manner of apps, emulations and other programs that will broaden its popular appeal.