In January we noted that the Raspberry Pi Foundation began production on a $35 Linux computer that was about the size of a credit card.
Yesterday, the foundation announced that the computer was available and could be purchased via two British distributors. If only interest wasn’t so great: both distributors’ Web sites crashed under heavy demand.
Via Ars Technica:
The Raspberry Pi foundation attempted to launch its $35 Linux computer on Tuesday evening, but the organization’s retail partners couldn’t cope with the massive demand. Two British electronic component distributors that intended to sell the product were unable to do so—their websites went down, succumbing to the stampede of eager enthusiasts who sought to purchase the hotly-anticipated system.
The product is a bare board with a 700MHz ARM11 CPU and 256MB of RAM. It’s roughly the size of a deck of playing cards and has a powerful GPU that is reportedly competitive with that of modern smartphones. Developer prototypes of the product have been shown running impressive graphics demos and decoding high-definition video.
The two companies selling the Raspberry Pi are Premier Farnell and RS Components. As of this writing the RS site is up while the Farnell site is still down.
The idea behind a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006, when Eben Upton was lecturing and working in admissions at Cambridge University. Eben had noticed a distinct drop in the skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year when he came to interview them. From a situation in the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as hobbyist programmers, the landscape in the 2000s was very different; a typical applicant now had experience only with web design, and sometimes not even with that. Fewer people were applying to the course every year. Something had changed the way kids were interacting with computers…
…There isn’t much any small group of people can do to address problems like an inadequate school curriculum or the end of a financial bubble. But we felt that we could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them had to be forbidden by parents; and to find a platform that, like those old home computers, could boot into a programming environment.