A computer which made me smile!

I grew up trying to imagine how it is to have a computer. I wrote my first code on the back cover of Atari Basic book (believe it or not :) ) Call me a dreamer, but for that reason, not a new Azure or AWS announcements, but this little computer made me smile!

A computer which made me smile!

How did your adventure with computers start?

(Assuming you have one - not everyone is in IT, but everyone started somewhere)

Mine started with Atari 65 XE.

It wasn't easy to get one. Yes, I'm not joking. For me, it wasn't like to go to the shop and buy one. My childhood was in communist Poland. To get one of those, my parents first had to save a lot of money. They had to exchange them into hard currency (it wasn't allowed) and only then go to the select store and buy one with hard cash.

Then I got it!

It was replaced with the first PC after a while, which was another considerable sacrifice from my parents (I keep a receipt for it somewhere to remember it).

It isn't a post to write about history. I thought about the future when I saw the recent announcement of Raspberry PI 400. A small computer, hidden in a keyboard running Linux.

What is important - it costs $70. It is a lot in some places, but it is more affordable than even the cheapest laptops and Chromebooks.

(To be honest, I couldn't resist and buy one; I will have a discussion with myself about it doing my monthly budget thing.)

It is a perfect device for educational purposes. What is more important, you don't have to carry it around - it is still Raspberry Pi, it runs out of SD card. Get your SD card in your pocket, go to school/friend/club/library/friend, plug it into another RPi 400, and you are set.

When I was growing up with my Atari, there was another thing I dreamed about. Getting connected to BBS (think about it as an early version of the web). I read about it in printed (sic!) computer magazines.

There was one slight issue with it - my parents didn't have a landline (yeah). When they got a landline connected (early 90's), there was no Internet connectivity in our area.

I got first connected to the Internet when I got to my university ('94). My world has changed.

Why write about it?

Days before the Raspberry Pi 400 announcement, I saw this tweet.

Starlink (and others who will follow) is out there. Working. I have my concerns about how it will pollute our night sky and similar. But I know that somewhere, out there is a kid who wants to get connected to the Internet (likely he has a phone by now), and it might be his version of my parent's landline.

Get both together: affordable, ready to use, and standardized computer and widely available, not dependent on surface infrastructure access to the Internet. As an outcome, you have an environment to enable more kids to educate properly and in computer science.

It might be their first endeavor to work and built their own RPi 400 from available components. It might be even cheaper than getting one from the store.

I'm not drinking a cool-a-aid on technology here. I know the world isn't perfect, and a lot is missing.

$70 is a lot in many countries - I understand it. When my parents got me my computers, they had to save months to buy it.

There is a need for education to be built around it. The materials are out there. The search engine will help kids to find it. They will need a sort of guided way through it.
Educational materials might be there, but:

  • not in the correct form (a video that will not be perfect for a bandwidth), or
  • language (the first step might be learning the language).

Those are all obstacles that can be overcome. I'm sure it will develop to be more accessible if there will be a need for it.

Educational materials are there - it has to be easy to find and follow.
Hardware costs will go even lower and will reach a broader range of people.
Bandwidth will get cheaper and more available and affordable.

I put together a quick map around it. Feel free to clone it with this link and change it.

It will unlock more potential in people than all AI buzz-word projects taken together. There is a good chance that this potential will be applied to something more than selling more ads. Solving different problems, known to local people, which are missed by valley now.

Don't want to get too excited, but somehow, will all gloomy outlook of another round of lockdown. This small computer made me smile.

Or it made a kid with an 8-bit computer dreaming about a land line smiling.

Last but not least - THANK YOU, MOM, AND DAD ['].