On the 1 March 2012 I placed an order with Premier Farnell for a Raspberry Pi model B computer. Now, I can hold it in my hand, as I am one of the first 10,000 proud owners of the most widely publicised and potentially significant pieces of technology to be produced for years that didn't come from a certain other fruity company. And oh boy is it dinky. Look at it!
That's an actual real life Lego man stood towering over what is a complete computer. How times have changed.
Specs wise, the Pi uses a Broadcom system-on-a-chip (SoC), which has 256MB of RAM, 700MHz processor and a Videocore 4 GPU. This translates to a device that will pump out graphics equivalent to the original Xbox and will allow BluRay quality playback, which isn't bad considering the whole thing weighs 45g. A pair of USB ports and an Ethernet port allow peripherals to be hooked up, and the little Raspberry to get online.
Okay, so the Pi is not going to be winning any performance competitions, but who cares? The principle purpose of Raspberry Pi is not to play the latest video games or to control a satellite, but to encourage people to experiment and learn. It is this educational angle that has really captured the public's attention. At a recent speech, Google chairman Eric Schmidt suggested what many others have before, that the $35 Raspberry Pi could be this generation's BBC Micro, the computer that filled the nation's classrooms in the 80s. The work that Google is doing with the charity Teach First is going to help do the same thing with the Pi, and encourage teachers and parents to get children interested in programming. A more noble cause I cannot imagine.
As for me, well I still don't quite know what I will use my new toy for. I am currently awaiting delivery of a micro-USB power supply (you can use a mobile phone charger) and an SD card for storage. Perhaps I will use it as the brains of a media centre, or maybe I will play some retro games, or I could use it to start building my own personal army of robots. The possibilities are endless, and luckily for me, there is a rapidly expanding forum of people much cleverer than I who can show me just how to do all this.
Whatever I choose to do, this is one Raspberry I cannot wait to get my teeth into.
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