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$35 Computer On Sale In England

No, you read the headline correctly. A British non-profit group has a very bare-bones computer available for the bargain-basement price of $35.The Raspberry Pi computer [left in above picture], like those sold in the very early days of PC’s, is nothing more than the master control system for the device. You have to supply your own monitor and keyboard [they plug into USB ports on the “motherboard”]. Software for the Raspberry Pi is written in a language known as Linux, simpler than the systems most other computers use [It’s also open code, meaning that software is distributed freely, and users are encouraged to adapt existing programs, as long as their additions are also freely distributed].

So what do you get for your $35? Well, you get a computer about the size of a deck of playing cards. It can do a lot of things the newer 4G telephones can do, as well as a few other tricks. Toronto’s Seneca College has created software allowing Raspberry Pi users to do word processing, as well as Web browsing. Testing on sample units shows the Pi runs most videos available on the Internet. It also reputedly can work with many graphic programs. Of course, as more experimenters adapt Linux software, it’s likely that more uses will come up.

So why a super-cheap computer? The Raspberry Pi Foundation, founded by a group of instructors at England’s Cambridge University, hoped that a low-price device would encourage children to buy and experiment with them. As often happens with new childrens’ “toys”, however, the “grownups” have seemed to take them over. Supplies are extremely  limited; two web sale sites that teamed up with Raspberry Pi to sell the computers crashed last night, overwhelmed by early orders. It’s hoped that a better manufacturing network will fix that problem later this year.

No word yet when, or if, the Raspberry Pi will go on sale here. Personally, I think it’s just a matter of time…


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