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Surprising Science

Learning How Computers Work on the Inside…for $25

The Raspberry Pi, a kind of hobbyist-kit computer, is poised to increase hardware and software skills for kids and adults in both developed and developing countries.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Now available online, the Raspberry Pi allows anyone who’s interested in understanding the blood and guts of a computer to put one together from scratch for only $25. Note that this isn’t the kind of computer that will replace your iPad: Comprised of basic parts, the kit is designed to introduce users to the mysteries that take place within the typical computer case. Once the machine is assembled, it can be put to work powering robots and games, among other projects.

What’s the Big Idea?

Eben Upton, the designer behind the Raspberry Pi, was motivated by the realization that for many kids, “computer knowledge” increasingly involved software, not hardware. “They were still messing around on computers, but they weren’t messing around with them….They had changed from active hackers to passive consumers.” In the 1980s, he and his friends learned both hardware and software design using a similar hobbyist’s-kit computer, and so he decided to create a modern version. The Raspberry Pi’s huge success with kids as well as adults in developing countries has inspired Upton to create a nonprofit foundation dedicated to building enough units to create and support an active owner community.

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