$25 tiny computer!

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The games developer David Braben and some colleagues [developed] something called Raspberry Pi. It’s a whole computer on a tiny circuit board – not much more than an ARM processor, a USB port, and an HDMI connection. They plugged a keyboard into one end, and hooked the other into a TV they had brought with them.

Yeah, yeah, help the little British school children yadayadayada. Let me know how that goes. Mean time, I WANT SOME OF THESE. I can imagine buying them six on a card off the wall at the supermarket!

One, Imma build into a belt buckle with the usb cord and video cord as the belt. Another, Imma attach to the new TV and put a bluetooth dongle in it. And so on.

If this turns out to be some kind of fantasy of this guy Braben, and it doesn’t really work and can’t get off the ground and there won’t be one available in May 2012, then there will be hell to pay.

Maybe I’ll glue one to the back of my Kindle and attach one to my camera’s lens cap and there is the possibility of designing a fishing lure that runs on Linux and …..

Hat tip: Gwen.

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13 thoughts on “$25 tiny computer!

  1. Search term: arduino

    Your basic Arduino board is actually more complex than really necessary. You can make one that’s a lot cheaper if you use a less expensive chip (something like a 32-bit PIC would do, for instance) and leave off peripherals that you don’t need. They produce more complex stuff for retail sale at less than $20 so it’s just a matter of how efficient your production/distribution chain is.

  2. Well, I knew about arduino and other tiny computers, but this is somewhat different in that it looks like something that comes more or less ready to go, is smaller, and is cheaper. If it exists.

    The problem I see with this so far is that we have a video of a guy talking about it but no video of some guy actually using it.

  3. Oh come on, at least have something comparable to a ZX-80, Commodore-64, or Apple2e. I want a gizmo with its own built-in assembler or monitor program like in the old days. What’s the point of an el-cheapo computer which requires at least a netbook with tools to program it?

  4. Two thoughts on this:

    1) The interviewee talked about computer skills in children, how they only learn to use rather than program. I read an item a few years ago (can’t find the link) where a writer criticized software and OS makers for phasing out BASIC interpreters from operating systems.

    Laugh if you want, but people can learn BASIC easily and begin to understand structured programming, skills which will transfer to other languages. If there’s no easy incentive to start programming, kids won’t learn; the biggest motivators are curiosity and the ability to do it yourself, both of which have been taken away by the absence of built-in BASIC interpreters.

    2) I hated the “One Laptop Per Child” project even before it bombed. It was always a bad idea because it was predicated on first world markets, not third world realities. In poor countries which have cell phones, what sort of phones are most people using – Apple’s iPhones, or old Nokias with LCD screens?

    When you have nothing, LCD phones that work are more than sufficient (read up on cell phone banking in Africa and the Philippines, it’s a brilliant system). And some companies are building durable bicycles for Africa, rather than cars, and not because of environmental reasons. Sometimes good enough is more than good enough.

    Why would third world countries need the latest technology with MP3 sound and SVGA graphics when SB16 chips and Text/CGA graphics would suffice for reading and writing, as well as consuming far less power to run? Computers based on the Pentium I with Flash RAM storage could be cheaply mass produced, and Microsoft could give away DOS 5 and Windows 3.1 as an OS to power it. Instead, the OLPC makers priced it out of existence because of insistence on their own desires for gadgets.

    Others such as Playpower are people trying to make $20 computers for the third world using the Motorola 6502 chip (which powered the Apple II, Commodore 64 and Atari 800). The 6502’s copyright expired which is why it was chosen. With the 8bit KonTiki server software, even low end computers could use the internet.



  5. Good comment, P_Smith, just a small nit to pick:

    The 6502’s copyright expired which is why it was chosen.

    Unless you’re talking about a country other than the U.S., I think you meant patent. Thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, copyrights last 95 years after the death of the creator, but patents still expire after 20 years.

    The fact you are well informed on this topic, but still confused the words copyright and patent, indicates that the truly Orwellian campaign by content providers to use “intellectual property” has paid good dividends. Pretty soon it will be normal for people to think that their Kindle-only books are really just rented, and libraries can finally be put out of their misery.

  6. Shawn Smith: “Unless you’re talking about a country other than the U.S., I think you meant patent. Thanks to the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act, copyrights last 95 years after the death of the creator, but patents still expire after 20 years.”

    Alright, I used the wrong word, but don’t assume I buy into corporations being able to own anything forever. When it comes to copyrights, I follow the law as it used to be written: Anything which was copyrighted at least fifty years ago, I treat as public domain, regardless of what the current “law” says.

    I’m also a big believer in the code of “abandonware” users. Software which is no longer supported or distributed by its producer falls into the public domain 20 years after it was released (e.g. MS-DOS 5 will be considered PD this year, and Windows 3.1 in March 2012).

    I don’t sell copies of movies and music I have that were made before 1961, but I have absolutely no qualms about giving away copies or receiving copies of such works. I advise anyone that if you find a copy of “Steamboat Willie”, feel free to give it away to others and tell Disney to FO&D.

    The current law is unethical, so I obey it as it used to be written, 50 years. I’d love to see assholes and asshats like Disney and the RIAA come after me and try to argue infringement, especially when they profitted from works whose 50 year copyright had expired. Several Disney movies would have violated the copyrights of 19th century authors if the current “95 year” period existed when the films were made. Wanting two different standards of protection is hypocrisy and greed of the worst sort.


  7. @P Smith
    So you freely share public domain works, fine. Who gives a shit? The problem is when you state that you are allowed to decide what copyright means. Do you not understand that you are speaking about things that the authors thereof depended on for a living, and possibly still do? Are you so callous that you care about nothing more than rationalizing stealing somebody’s source of income?
    Intellectual property is just that…property. You can try all you want to prove that it belongs to you, but if it falls under current copyright laws, it doesn’t. Wanting to be paid for work done is not unethical, it’s merely due compensation for work already done.

    (BTW, copyrights can be renewed by the estate of the creator.)

    Disclaimer: I am a member of the musician’s guild.

  8. Furthermore, if my grandfather owned 200 acres of land and willed it to my father before dying 75 years ago; my father then willed it to me before dying 50 years ago, do you have the right to take over my property? No, you don’t. The right of ownership has been passed on. The same applies to copyrighted works of art. And yes, popular music counts as art under the law.

  9. Yes, I know that copyrights must be renewed, but they can also be transferred. That’s what I left out.

  10. Check out mbed.org. $60 for a fast ARM-based system
    with 8 12bit AD channels that can be read 200K times per second, according to one datasheet. This beats Arduino (an 8bit 1Mhz cpu) by a wide margin.

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