The Raspberry Pi project is almost a perfect example of open source engineering story. Well, it has started in popular fashion – a £20 Raspberry Pi computer sold for £3,500 on eBay last week, writes Steve Bush.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation, which intends to sell its educational computers directly, auctioned 10 of its beta production board on eBay.
As executive director Eben Upton pointed out in a video on the Foundation’s website, this limited auction was aimed at: computer collectors, benefactors intending to donate to the foundation – which is a charity, and software development firm’s wanting hardware before full-production boards are released later this month.
In a move that may cause priority arguments amongst collectors in the future, Raspberry Pi number 1 was actually the tenth auctioned, with number 10 going first for the relative bargain price of £1,900.
Number 7 was bought by an anonymous benefactor for £989 and donated to the Computer Museum at the Centre for Computing History in Suffolk.
Set up by a group of high-flying techies, the Foundation aims to inspire a generation of programmers by putting competent low-cost hardware into the hands of children and teenagers, much in the way that Sinclair computers did in the 1980s.
“We have parts in stock for our first 10,000 units, and expect to be in volume production by the end of January,” said Raspberry Pi Foundation executive director Eben Upton.
The computer, Raspberry Pi, is intended to cost under £20, is based around a 32bit ARM11 system chip which plugs into a TV through HDMI or analogue video, and will run some Linux distributions, Python, Iceweasel and KOffice amongst other open-source applications – a slight setback is that Ubuntu is not yet supporting the hardware.
Most importantly for the Foundation, unlike PCs and smart phones, Raspberry Pi can be programmed by the user as soon as it is switched on, tempting them to explore computer science.