You hear about how computer components are getting smaller and smaller all the time, and how a scientific calculator today has more processing power than the computers that first sent astronauts to the moon. But there’s still something a bit jarring about actually seeing a full-fledged computer that’s about the size of a USB thumb drive — or a human thumb, for that matter.
The first project from Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer with an ARM-based processor and USB and HDMI ports for connecting a keyboard and external display. The system runs Ubuntu Linux and the developers say it could sell for as little as $25.
The specs aren’t going to blow anyone away. The computer has a 700MHz ARM11 processor, 128MB of RAM and an SD card slot. A typical smartphone is more powerful — but much more expensive.
The Raspberry Pi device can handle 1080p HD video, OpenGL ES 2.0 graphics, and basic computing tasks such as running a web browser or office software.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a non-profit that’s working to get the little computer into classrooms where children can learn to use and even program computers. The $25 price tag certainly makes the device accessible — especially if you already have a monitor or TV which you can use as an external display. You’ll still need a keyboard and mouse — or a touchscreen. The computer can be used as the foundation for a low cost tablet.