The $48 Raspberry Pi computer's debut has caused online
retail sites to crash. Photo / Jared Smith
It's a computer that costs $48, which makers hope will
get every child programming - and the initial run of 10,000 has
been snapped up by eager customers.
While it may not look as attractive as its more expensive
cousins, the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi was launched last
week in the UK to much fanfare, and will be coming to New
Zealand on the next run.
Equipped with two USB ports and an ethernet port to access
the internet, it is capable of running word processing,
internet, games, and high-definition video - the same
capabilities as PCs costing 10 times its price.
The charity that developed the PC hopes it will make basic
computers available to anyone, particularly in schools, and
generate interest in computer programming among children.
Technology experts predict that charitable organisations are
likely to bulk import them into New Zealand for community
programmes and schools.
UK demand for the computer was so overwhelming that its
developers said it sold out in minutes and crashed one of the
Technology commentator Peter Griffin stressed that the
computer would have basic functionality - "It's no iPad'' -
but its size and cost created the possibility of a computer
for every child."There will be no excuse for a kid not to
have a computer.
"They can put it in their pocket, carry it to school. It's
equivalent to what you'd get in an Android smartphone but it
costs a fraction of the price.
"Not only does it give kids tools to learn all their
subjects, but to also start thinking like software developers
themselves so they can pump their ideas out to the world. In
the next few years we'll see kids writing their own Android
and Apple apps.''
Mr Griffin said the product's value was in its bare-bones
system, which allowed it to be shipped cheaply and plugged
into old, existing technology.
The Raspberry Pi's scale and cheapness were made possible by
huge leaps in memory storage in a small space and also a
microchip _ similar to those in smartphones _ which has
significant processing power.
A new batch of the Raspberry Pi is expected in four to six
weeks, and an even lighter version is expected to be on the
market soon. With only one USB port and no ethernet port, it
will sell for $30. Some similarly sized, stripped-down
computers are already on the market, but the Pi undercuts
them on price.
The computer is available here through the nz.element14.com
Computer Clubhouse NZ chief executive Mike Usmar, whose
company encourages learning by technology, said the product
was attractive because it was designed collaboratively _ by
the industry, teachers, academics and the public.
"That's quite critical because technology shouldn't just be a
demarcation between the industry and users. It is not
dropping computers out of a helicopter into developing
nations _ it is about engaging with people and working
Retail price: $48
Size: 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm
2 USB ports, one ethernet port
No hard drive
Runs on Linux operating system