Now I am of an age whereby computing is still a bit of a novelty, mainly because we didn’t have them when I was a kid at school. I discovered computers at college so consider myself a latecomer to that world. Perhaps it is because of this that I love playing with them and learning how to solve issues with hardware and software – my wife uses the word ‘geek’, possibly a bit harsh but probably true.
Somewhere at my family home in Malmesbury there is a Sinclair ZX81 hidden away. I have to be honest and say that I was not a childhood computer programmer with it – I purchased it off a mate a few years after they were popular because I fancied playing with it. It was interesting but generally useless!
However, I gather it was machines such as this that made the UK world leaders in programming (especially for gaming). More importantly we have been lacking ‘a ground floor entry’ machine for kids to learn how to code on – until now.
The Raspberry Pi has just been released, it is a credit-card sized computer designed as a bare-bones, low-cost computer, ideal for kids and educational establishments to develop. Sold un-cased without keyboard or monitor, the Pi has been six years in the making, but has created an amazing amount of interest.
Supporters hope the machines produced by the Raspberry Pi Foundation could help reverse a lack of programming skills in the UK. The device’s launch comes as the Department for Education considers changes to the teaching of computing in schools, with the aim of placing greater emphasis on skills like programming.
Initially the £22 model of the Pi will be offered for sale. A cheaper £16 version will go on sale later in the year. The machine runs on open-source operating system Linux, and can be hooked up to a typical computer monitor – with additional ports used to attach a keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. It also features an ethernet port, meaning the device can make use of high-speed internet connectivity.
I have to be honest – I have an urge to get one to play with…