Raspberry Pi: The next Apple-1?

March 12th, 2012 10:34 AM
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Filed under Hacks & mods, Mainstream coverage;
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A computer named after a fruit? Hey, it worked for Apple. So why not Raspberry?

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized computer that, like the original Apple-1, comes without a monitor or keyboard. But unlike any product of the Homebrew Computer Club, this device can compete with computers of today.

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi is powered by ARM1176JZFS CPU (part of the ARMv6 architecture) and Videocore 4 GPU. It will do everything from run Python to power a Blu-Ray DVD player through its OS of choice, Linux. Raspberry Pi comes in two flavors, both with 256MB of RAM. $25 gets you the Model A, with one USB port; for an extra $10, you get a second USB port plus an Ethernet jack.

"Inspired by computers like the BBC Micro and the Commodore 64 in the 1980s, the group of engineers set out to build a new programmable machine for a new generation," reports CNN. And just like its predecessors, Raspberry Pi looks to revolutionize computing. According to the foundation's Web site:

Developing countries are interested in the Raspberry Pi as productivity devices in areas that simply can’t afford the power and hardware needed to run a traditional desktop PC; hospitals and museums have contacted us to find out about using the Raspberry Pi to drive display devices. Parents of severely disabled kids have talked to us about monitoring and accessibility applications; and there seem to be a million and one people out there with hot soldering irons who want to make a robot.

Could the Raspberry Pi be the next Apple-1 or even Apple II — a machine that's so affordable, so expandable, and so flexible that it can be whatever anyone with some know-how wants it to be? Or is it more notable for selling out on its Leap Year launch date of Feb 29, 2012, with nothing notable to come of it? It wouldn't be the first product whose potential went unrealized — witness the Apple II's own Carte Blanche card. Or will Raspberry Pi do great things yet be remembered for what it didn't do? One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program accomplished great deeds but was faced with significant criticism. Can Raspberry Pi live up to its hype?

Pi is not the computer for me, but I am eager to see if it becomes the next Arduino, making possible infinite amazing projects.