When Personal Computers first became popular in the 1980’s, they were clunky, complex and – out of necessity – highly programmable. These days, PCs are powerful machines, however, they don’t come cheapandmostofthemagichappens behind the scenes. Ipads and smart-phones offer a huge amount of power for their size and price, but they can still be prohibitively expensive and have sacrificed what makes a computer special – the ability to use it for creation; for hacking and programming.
It’s no coincidence that in recent years there has been a huge drop in high-school graduates choosing Computer Science as a core subject, just as there has been a lack of interest in programming from children in developed nations. They’re all growing up on smart-phones and tablets – slickdeviceswith tightly-scripted user-experiences that take away the user’s ability to see what’s happening behind the scenes.
Several motivated companies have decided that the time has come for the world’s youth to beginning discovering what powers the 21st Century – for them to see the bits and bytes, the loops and commands that make this (digital) world turn. Technected is going to share 3 of the world’s smallest, cheapest PCs – fully functional computers that can be usedforeverything from HD video streaming through to learning how to program Python. The hope is that not only will these devices open up the world of programming to our apathetic youth, but will open up opportunities to developing nations who have, until now, been unable to join the digital revolution due to high-prices and inaccessibility.
The size of a credit card, and costing only $25, Raspberry PI is being touted by many as a game-changer – a device that will cause an explosion of interest in programming, both at home and abroad. The price makes the device accessible to a large percentage of the world’s population, and it’s powerful enough to run the Linux OS, word processing software and even fairly sophisticated graphics. You can hook Raspberry PI up to the net and attach peripherals, and already it has caught the attention of schools around the world.
Cotton Candy is a PC on a USB stick, complete with a 1.2 GHZ processor, up to 64GB hard drive and the ability to run Android, Ubuntu or even Windows. It can connect to monitors with HDMI, and can also be used to run 2 operating systems on a laptop at once. It’s priced a fair bit higher than Raspberry PI at $199, but still gives a child the option to carry around a fully programmable PC in their pocket!
Until recently Cotton Candy was the only ‘PC-on-a-USB’ option for those wanting to run Android on the run, but now a new competitor has entered the market in the form of the MK802. Retailing at over $100 cheaper, it boasts a 1.5 GHZ processor, 512MB of RAM and the ability to connect directly to internet. You can also run other operating systems on the machine, meaning that budding Zuckerbergs can get up and running with programming in next to no time.
What do you think about the Pint-Sized PC revolution? Is this going to encourage children to become more actively involved in programming. Let us know your thoughts and if you’ve had a play around with any of the above models:)