You want a $35 computer? You got a $35 computer. The Raspberry Pi Foundation has finally launched its Model B Linux computer through two major electronics retailers: RS and Farnell. Since the announcement on Leap Day, interest in the ARM powered board with HDMI output has skyrocketed. Both the RS and Farnell websites were crashed due to the rush of visitors seeking pre-orders, much to some people's chagrin. Those sites are up again, but the Raspberry Panic keeps on going - radio, TV, and web news sources in the Foundation's native UK are overflowing with comments on the $35 Model B, and the blogosphere is going nuts over the release. To coincide with the launch of Raspberry Pi, Farnell's Element 14 has released some great videos showcasing the Model B (see below). With Farnell and RS on board, Raspberry Pi will be able to ship the Model Bs (and later Model As) in the tens of thousands, scaling up with demand. Could the Raspberry Pi become a new standard in low-end computing?
Singularity Hub has covered Raspberry Pi and its nearing launch rather extensively in the past. To summarize however, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was formed in response to a drop in student interest in programming in the UK, and general concern over the quality of computer education in that nation and around the world. A low-cost, easy to use, easy to modify computer was seen as a ready solution, and now, more than six years later the Raspberry Pi Model B is ready to be ordered. The tiny computer may look like little more than a circuit board, but it is fitted with a 700 MHz ARM processor, HDMI output, 256 MB RAM, an SD card slot for hard drive, and HDMI output. There's more info about the computer's specs and appearance in the following video from Farnell:
Raspberry Pi Foundation co-founder Robert Mullins demonstrates the Model B and its amazing video output in the footage below. Make sure to watch through 3:00 or so to see the HDMI quality graphics, and hear Mullins brag that the tiny board only consumes 1-2 watts during this great output. No wonder the board can run on either micro-USB or even AA batteries.
Harriet Green, CEO of Farnell sat down with Robert Mullins to speak about the history, capabilities, and promise of Raspberry Pi. The interview is a little dry, but Mullins does suggest that the small board would be a great asset in robotics research and at-home automation projects. The possibilities that this $35 computer opens up are just amazing!
Oh, and here's a brief interview with Eben Upton, another Raspberry Pi co-founder, that's receiving a lot of play on the BBC News site:
Right, enough with the videos already. What does the Raspberry Pi Model B launch mean to you? In the short term, it means you should go buy one. Seriously, a hobby computer equipped with Linux, ready to play out of the box is a steal at just $35. And if you want one, you better hurry. Lead time for pre-orders may be up to a month by now judging from the comments on Raspberry Pi's Twitter Feed. Even if it takes a few weeks to arrive at your doorstep, the Model B represents a major innovation in computing. Not everyone can own a high-end iMac, or rent time with IBM's Watson, but millions (billions?) of people around the world can afford $35 for a chance to educate themselves in programming. Wait, it gets better though. The Model A, which is to arrive later this year, is now going to have just as much memory as the Model B (256MB), cut 2 USB and ethernet ports, and only cost $25. The hurdles towards computer literacy just got a lot lower. That's the best news I've heard all day. A million kudos to Mullins, Upton, and the rest of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Ideas like this are going to revolutionize our world.