When I started using computers many years ago they were expensive. We had a BBC Micro which my dad bought second hand because he thought it would be a good thing for us to get involved in — this was in about 1984 I guess. As the years progressed dad would occasionally bring home newer computers for me and my sister to get to grips with including the Amiga 500 (it was a CDTV actually, so even better!) and later the Amiga 1200.
What early access to computers meant to me
Having access to these machines meant I taught myself rudimentary programming skills for fun before getting into making websites in about 1996. I know people who didn’t even have internet access at home until around the year 2000; I’d already been making websites for years by then. That’s thanks to my dad and his foresight. It’s also thanks to the fact that as a family we could afford to buy these computers. Of course at the time I never gave this any thought at all, I guess I assumed that all kids had access to the same things I did but of course that wasn’t the case. And it’s still not the case now. But today we’re a LOT closer to computers being available to all kids thanks to the good people at The Raspberry Pi foundation.
RaspberryPi Zero: The best free gift ever?
The Raspberry Pi Foundation introduced the first version of the their tiny, but fully functional, computer in 2012 for just $25. They’ve just unveiled a new model called the Raspberry Pi Zero and it comes free with a magazine. I used to be impressed by a bag of sweets on the cover, but a free computer is just crazy! Issue 40 of MagPi Magazine costs just £5.99 and has a computer attached to the front cover. If you can’t stretch to that you can buy the computer separately for £4.00. FOUR ENGLISH POUNDS… And to be clear, this is a proper computer too. It’s got 512MB Ram, HDMI out and USB ports to connect mouse and keyboard. Anyone could use this to learn to programme or, y’know, play Minecraft or something. Which I hear is quite popular.
I can’t get over quite how amazing that is and what it could mean for kids learning to code over the next few years. You can read more about Raspberry Pi Zero or buy the computer itself on their website. Also, follow @raspberry_pi and @TheMagP1 magazine on Twitter.