I’ve just stumbled across the Raspberry Pi (RasPi) and have spent the past 3 hours contently reading about it and the Gertboard. In a nutshell, RasPi is a credit card sized computer with USBWikipedia: Universal Serial Bus (USB) is an industry standard that establishes specifications for cables, connectors and protocols for connection, communication and power supply (interfacing) between computers, ..., HDMIWikipedia: High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a proprietary audio/video interface for transmitting uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from an HDMI-compliant sou..., compositeWikipedia: Composite video is an analog video signal format that carries standard-definition video (typically at 480i or 576i resolution) as a single channel. Video information is encoded on one channel, unlike ... and analogue audio I/O ports – all powered by a 600MHz BroadcomWikipedia: Broadcom Inc. is an American designer, developer, manufacturer and global supplier of a wide range of semiconductor and infrastructure software products. Broadcom's product offerings serve the data ce... ARMWikipedia: An arm is an upper limb of the body. processor and 128MB RAM – selling for $25. There’s a $35 “B” model which, as I understand it, has 256MB RAM and an Ethernet port. An SD card reader provides permanent storage for the device.
The RasPi beta boards have been shown to successfully run LinuxWikipedia: Linux (/ˈlinʊks/ (listen) LEEN-uuks or /ˈlɪnʊks/ LIN-uuks) is a family of open-source Unix-like operating systems based on the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released on S... and are set to be the core of a host of home-brew devices performing a variety of tasks. The boards can compile and run high level programming languagesWikipedia: In computer science, a high-level programming language is a programming language with strong abstraction from the details of the computer. In contrast to low-level programming languages, it may use na... and would be perfect to teach programming to school kids and individuals alike.
However, the thing that interested me most was Gertboard. This is a programmable expansion board for the RasPi. It was created by Broadcom Engineer Gert van Loo and has been designed to teach both electronics and low level programmingWikipedia: A low-level programming language is a programming language that provides little or no abstraction from a computer's instruction set architecture—commands or functions in the language map that are st.... In another nutshell, it allows the programming and control of motors, relays, LEDs, etc. I have personally dabbled with electronics (with little success) and this is something that really interests me. I half wish I did electronics as a degree rather than spending 3 years learning very little of real value on a Computer Science course. I dabbled with low level programming in the form of Intel 8086Wikipedia: The 8086 (also called iAPX 86) is a 16-bit microprocessor chip designed by Intel between early 1976 and June 8, 1978, when it was released. The Intel 8088, released July 1, 1979, is a slightl... compatible assembly language whilst at UniversityWikipedia: Cardiff University (Welsh: Prifysgol Caerdydd), a public research university in Cardiff, Wales, was established in 1883 as the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire and became a founding... and I quite enjoyed this also.
I rarely jump on anything shiny and new, eagerly anticipating its release; however the RasPi and Gertboard have gotten my attention and I will be sure to pick some up when they’re released.