On Tuesday, I was reading a story on The Economist about the Raspberry Pi. It certainly spawned the nostalgic sense in the Babbage editor, and it drove me to make an impulse purchase.
For $35, you get a pretty complete single board, miniature computer. about 2.5 by 4 inches, it packs in a pretty powerful package. Based on a Broadcom SoC with both an ARM core and a GPU, it comes with 512M ram, an SD card for main storage (not included), 2 USB 2.0 ports, audio, HDMI and an ethernet port. I ordered up a SD card from Amazon, downloaded a linux image, and waited for the unit to arrive.
Surprisingly quickly, it was in my mailbox. Simple to setup, and straightforward to use, it was a snap to get it going, and it detected and drives my 24″ LCD monitor just fine.
It does scratch the itch of a very basic computer, harkening back to a simpler time when computers were slow, and rather primitive. I recall my first computer was a 48K Atari 800 (I still keep an Atari 130XE around for grins and giggles), and this is reminiscent of that. So far, I have just started working my way through a Python tutorial, and have ordered another batch of goodies for it (its own power supply, now I share it with my iPad, a clear plastic case, and a “back to the basics” book to learn from, and a WiFI dongle to hook it up to the internet). While I will probably not break out an assembler and learn machine code (like I did back in the day for the 6502 processor systems), I will putter about with Python. Maybe put Octave on it. Who knows.
I can clearly see myself adding one of the interface cards, and doing some weather monitoring, or water usage monitoring. Perhaps I will build it into a media center for the TV to stream movies to our TV. Or build a MAME cabinet with a Raspberry Pi to run it.
It is a hoot to play with.