If you have come across recent news articles about a new product release from the Raspberry Pi Foundation, articles published by credible sources like CNET, you would have read descriptions on how the foundation “cooked its groundbreaking product” at a certain time and how “the first product came out of the oven” in 2006. No, it’s not about a delicious, oven baked raspberry pie but of a cause much nobler in its intended purpose.
You can view a visual and audio description of this product on YouTube, a video titled Raspberry Pi Model A+ Launch.
The product is a basic microcomputer board with the product designation Raspberry Pi Model A+. It is no larger than a credit card in size. It is not the typical motherboard, fitted with one of the advanced and powerful microprocessors that drive today’s desktop and portable computers. This motherboard serves a different purpose.
The originator of the product is the U.K. based Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity organisation supported by the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory and Broadcom.
In the words of Eben Upton, the CEO of the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the product’s inventor, the foundation, in collaboration with Cambridge University, wanted to solve the problem of declining student enrolments in Computer Science degree courses. His stated aim and purpose, as well as a description of the product, can be seen in a video published by CNet. The purpose is to promote the teaching of basic computer science in schools and to put fun back into the study of Computer Science.
The underlying cause of student’s growing lack of interest in Computer Science is that computers have advanced to a stage where their use requires no technical knowledge. For this reason, computer programming no longer appeals to the tech savvy youngsters who like more creative challenges.
The Raspberry Pi Model A+ is a basic microprocessor board that requires some programming in order to get it started. The A+ model follows on from a more powerful B+ board, released earlier.
The board provides an appealing challenge for students who wish to learn computer science from the ground up. It provides experimental studies in the basics of how computers work.
The board, no more than 65mm in length (2.6”), comes with a 700MHz processor, 256MB or 500MB of RAM, Ethernet, USB port for power, HDMI port, and a headphone jack. The operating system has to be loaded from a plug-in microSD card which also serves as a storage device. Its basic features are what makes it such a powerful teaching tool.
For the tech savvy programmer, the foundation offers Debian and Arch Linux download, tools like Python as a main programming language, plus support for BBC Basic or Brandy Basic for Linux as well as C, C++, Java, Perl and Ruby.
By the end of 2014, sales of the board will have climbed to 4 million units. The main distributor in Australia is RS-online who offers the board at a price of around AU$32.00 ex cludingGST.