In a world where computers are increasingly powerful and are concealed within ever more glossy slabs of aluminum, the Raspberry Pi (RPi) offers surprising proof for the virtue of moderation.
Resembling little more than a credit card-sized scrap of exposed circuit board, the RPi is a fully programmable PC that runs a free, open-source Linux operating system, plugs into any TV, can power 3D graphics, connects to the Internet and, with a little ingenuity, be used to create your own personalized robot slave.
The computer's miniature frame is crowded with two USB ports, an SD card slot, an Ethernet connection and microchip in the middle -- all powered by a universal USB mobile charger.
Not only is it the world's smallest personal computer but, perhaps most importantly of all, at just $25 the RPi is also the world's cheapest. Eben Upton, the UK-based University of Cambridge professor and inventor behind the wallet-friendly PC, says he set out to create a computer so affordable that every child in Britain could have one. With its rough-around-the-edges aesthetic, however, he didn't expect it to catch on very fast and, in the early days of development, set a sales target of 10,000 units within his lifetime.
But when the RPi launched in February of this year, demand far outran supply, and all 10,000 sold out immediately -- crashing the distributing websites in the process.