With the launch of the Raspberry Pi earlier today 29th February 2012 (6 AM GMT), I found myself being flabbergasted and happily amazed in equal measure. It took me over an hour to get onto Premier Farnell‘s website early this morning and about 20 minutes to access Radio Spares Components. I initially held off ‘registering an interest’ for a RasPi on RS as Premier Farnell had stock today, however @Raspbery_Pi twitter-sphere soon indicated Farnell had sold out in just over an hour and RS were not selling today. Soon after I ‘registered an interest’ for the Raspberry Pi on RS.
For Farnell and RS it might have seemed like a co-ordinated DDoS as requests flooded in due to demand for Model B RasPi. For me not being able to get onto these sites (as for many I suspect) has been both frustrating and exciting, as this signals the start of an exciting journey for the Raspberry Pi from 1st generation onwards. This also demonstrates a success story not just for computing technology enthusiasts, hobbyists and experts alike, but exemplifies a thirst for learning, imagination and creativity for many, due to the scope an inexpensive pocket computer running an open-source OS (Linux) can be used for.
While the media is currently focusing on programming aspects of Computer Science, the RasPi opens up computing technology for many not just in learning programming, but also for understanding how stuff works as well as for fun. With accessories such as the Gertboard due to follow later this year, the RasPi can also be put to use in other science and engineering projects, from designing robots through to controlling them.
A frenzy of excitement and anticipation has been slowly built-up over the past 9 months. I first came across the Raspberry Pi project via BBC’s Click 4th June programme where David Braben speaks with Peter Price about the Raspberry Pi prototype; you can see Eben Upton in the video setting up the prototype. With announcements of the Raspberry Pi Model B’s imminent release from November 2011 through to February 2012, anticipation has grown and word on the RasPi has spread. Necessary delays to the initial projected first consumer release have crept in due to improvements and testing, however I think the wait has been worth while.
With production of the RasPi now entering into licensed manufacture with British companies Premier Farnell and RS Components, it shouldn’t be too long before the rest of us get our hands on a RasPi… I am waiting excitedly! One of the big unknowns for the Raspberry Pi Foundation and computer enthusiasts alike was how the RasPi will be received? The initial RasPi Model B release for around £22 ($35 US) can be seen as a success with available devices quickly selling out. I don’t think this time around for the successor of the Acorn Electron (BBC Micro) they shall have stock left in warehouses, just the opposite.
I wonder if the RasPi will eventually end up being sold on the shelves of WHSmith stores, as the ZX Spectrum and Acorn Electron did back in the 1980s?
Postscript: For all those lucky enough to have their hands on a RasPi, if you would like to know where to download a Linux distribution, please point your browser at http://elinux.org/RPi_Community, and for an example of how to write the image file to your SD memory card using a Unix or Linux based OS, please see http://wp.me/p1KP49-3v. The example I provide is for Mac OS X users, however these instructions are translatable for any *NIX OS.