Raspberry Pi

Umm…Raspberry Pie (think Homer Simpson, in fact click on his name and you will learn how to say “Umm…Raspberry Pie”). However this:

Pie

 

is the wrong kind raspberry, and the wrong type of pie. What we want to explore with you is the “Raspberry Pi” a Linux based small form computer. When we say small we mean it. The Raspberry Pi is the size of a credit card and capable of performing with much of the same functionality associate with basic desktop computing. That doesn’t sound all that impressive, does it? That would be a huge misconception; the Raspberry Pi is something of a conceptual marvel, in my humble yet correct opinion. To fully appreciate what the “Pi” really is and what why I have called it a marvel we should start at the beginning.

 

This tiny computer is the product of four people’s dismay over a rather imposing problem; and their creative solution. Jack Lang, Alan Mycroft, Rob Mullins, and Eben Upton based out of the Computer Lab at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory (Cambridge, Unite Kingdom) were the people who witnessed a disturbing trend with incoming students. They began to see a trend in students graduating from the US equivalent of High School woefully lacking in basic computer programing and coding skills. The issue, in their view was a twofold problem: Inadequate curriculum in secondary education, and a huge technological, social shift. Computers and digital entertainment had changed dramatically from the 1990s to 2000. In other words the advent of the home PC and game consoles changed the computing landscape. For these four professors the norm had been the majority of incoming freshmen entering the university’s Computer Science program were at the very least “hobbyist” with basic programing/coding skills.

Enter the home PC,  Microsoft, Apple, Windows, iOS, and programs like Microsoft’s Word and Excel which required no programing knowledge what so ever to operate the programs. Good for increasing efficiency, not good for needing to learn to code. And desk top PC hardware/software costs had increased to the point that parents didn’t want their children experimenting on their home computers, becoming prohibitive environment. The introduction of Atari, Nintendo 64, and PlayStation also created computer based entertainment without the skills to program the system/program. Again, good for increasing play time, bad for inspiring innovation through programming. But really…who wouldn’t want to play Tekken 3 for hours? Paul Phoenix, Forest Law, and Lei Wulong were my favs! The Cambridge Four (that’s what I call them) saw this huge cultural shift and didn’t throw in the towel. No one would blame them for so, the problem was systemic, with little promise of change in the near future. What these people did was brilliant.

PiRaz

They designed, produced, and now manufacture computers that can boot into a programmable environment…and a person can purchase this computer for $35 (US). The original four Cambridge professors teamed up with David Braben, CEO of Frontier Developers and Pete Lomas, Director of Engineering of Norcott Technologies, and formed the Raspberry Pi Foundation to their solution a reality. Jump ahead three years and the Raspberry Pi Model B entered mass production. Within the first two years of public availability the Raspberry Pi sold over two million units. Now that’s a positive solution!

The Pi comes in 2 models A & B which retail at $25 and $35 (US). To give you some idea of what you get when you purchase this little wonder let’s take a quick peek at their basic specs.

RPSPECS

The main differences between Model A & B would be the number of USB connectors and Model A doesn’t have an Ethernet connector.

Purchasing a Raspberry Pi

There are a few options for purchase:

You can buy a Pi directly for their Website: swag.raspberrypi.org or through their main distributors, Premier Farnell/Element 14 and RS Components/Allied Electronics.

The number of ways in which you can utilize this pint sized computer is vast, controlling anything from Christmas displays, school projects, lawn irrigation to viewing the latest action movie in HD. But the main and the plain of the Raspberry Pi is to “promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing.”

What a refreshing approach to business, education, and creative problem solving with social issues. For more information about the Raspberry Pi and the charity Raspberry Pi Foundation, explore the Raspberry Pi Foundation website.

Please return to our site for the follow up to this post where we will continue to explore the Raspberry Pi. As always we invite your feedback here in the comment section, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or with a good old fashioned phone call.

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