The Raspberry Pi computer, the size of a credit-card was designed to encourage children to learn programming. It caught the imagination of millions when it was unveiled in February 2012.
The website where it was initially put up for sale, crashed. There were also delays in getting the product safety-tested. However, the first devices are now being delivered to customers.
The uncased device, with everything on show, may have great appeal to the experienced programmers who have rushed to order their very own Raspberry Pi computers, however the device is aimed at children, who could be put off by the need to hunt down various peripherals and cables to get the system going.
In order to run the computer you’ll need a monitor (or television), an HDMI cable, a mouse, keyboard, ethernet cable and a micro-USB charger to power the device. If you don’t have these parts lying around then the original £30 pound cost of the Raspberry Pi could look like not such a bargain anymore.
The device is run by a custom version of the Linux operating system with some graphical programs, a media player (the Raspberry Pi is capable of playing an HD movie), a web browser, and some coding tutorials. Clearly designed to help you in the right direction and to play around with the capabilities of this tiny computer.
There are two programming languages available to try out of the box, Scratch and Python.
Scratch is designed to introduce younger children to programming, and is already used in a number of primary schools. Python however is aimed at slightly older students. The Raspberry Pi comes with a selection of games – the idea is to play them, then tinker with the code.
As the operating system can only be put on an SD card, which are limited in storage capacity, they won’t become mainstream Windows machines. This means the Linux operating system will get some helpful exposure in schools and to the younger generation.
There is a danger however that regular students, and even schools, won’t approach the Raspberry Pi with the same enthusiasm that the media and technology industry since its announcement.
The device could either inspire a new generation of computer programmers, or it could leave children used to smartphones and tablet computers baffled, bewildered and even bemused with the Pi.
What do you think?