Mark Amory | 3 July 2012
Last Thursday was a day of anticipation for me, I knew I was to be taking delivery of my newest computer.
The postman was delivering my Raspberry Pi.
After being on a waiting list to get on a waiting list for over 6 months and then in a queue of over 100,000 others, I was eagerly awaiting this momentous occasion.
The release of the Raspberry Pi for many has evoked memories of their first forrays into computing - for some it was the Acorn, others the Commodore, a few (better-off ones) it was a BBC model B - but for me, it was the Sinclair Spectrum.
That machine was a source of many hours of joy (Manic Miner, Jetset willy, Skool Daze, Ant Attak, Knot in 3D, I could go on....), but equally, it was a source of laboured concentration (and many times frustration) of typing in line after line of code (PEEKS, POKES, GOTO's and more) just to get a sprite to run across the screen.
The simplistic nature of the programming interface enabled me and countless others to enter a few lines of code and realise amazing results.
I'm sure that many of you reading this got into I.T. as a result of one of these iconic machines. It truly was the hayday of computing for the masses.
In the interim years, PCs have got bigger, faster, better and the programmes that run on them have got bigger, faster and better - so much so, that it would be next to impossible for a home-brew programmer to come up with something anywhere near the complexity of something like Word, or Photoshop.
In my mind, that's why the world of the app has taken off in a big way. You don't need to be a master programmer to build a playable app - all you need is imagination - look at "Angry Birds" - in essence, that's a game where you throw stuff at other stuff to try to knock it down, but what a game it is - simple, but most of all - PLAYABLE!
This is where the Raspberry Pi come in. As a cheap, yet relatively powerful tool to inspire kids (and non-grown-ups alike) to get back to the roots of computing - by making programs instead of just using them.
One thing that I think is brilliant about the Raspberry Pi is the GPIO (General Purpose IO) pins that enable external connectors to be fed out from the unit to external devices. This will allow programmers the ability to control larger systems by sending the right signals to the right circuits.
I think my first project for the Pi is to build a media server from it - just to see how well it performs.
Then I think I might go back to the 1980's and build an adventure game....
"Hit orc with axe!"
"You don't have an axe"
aaarrrggghh - "Pick up axe"
"You pick up the axe"
"Hit orc with axe!".....