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posted by janrinok on Sunday March 13 2022, @02:14PM   Printer-friendly

10 years of Raspberry Pi: The $25 computer has come a long way:

This little device has revolutionized computing since it came on the scene. We take a look back at its journey.

The UK in the 1980s was ground zero for the microcomputer revolution. Cheap computers based on 8-bit processors flooded the market, teaching a generation to program using built-in BASIC interpreters. Homes had devices like Sinclair's ZX81 and Spectrum, while schools used Acorn's BBC Micro.

These weren't like today's PCs. They were designed and built to be accessible, with IO ports that could be accessed directly from the built-in programming environments. Turn one on, and you were ready to start programming.

But then things changed: 16-bit machines were more expensive, and technical and marketing failures started to remove pioneers from the market. The final nail in the coffin was the IBM PC and its myriad clones, focused on the business market and designed to run, not build, applications.

It became harder to learn computing skills, with home computers slowly replaced by gaming consoles, smartphones and tablets. How could an inquisitive child learn to code or build their own hardware?

The answer first came from the Arduino, a small ARM-based developer board that served as a target for easy-to-learn programming languages. But it wasn't a computer; you couldn't hook it up to a keyboard and screen and use it.

Eben Upton, an engineer at microcontroller chip manufacturer Broadcom, was frustrated with the status quo. Looking at the current generation of ARM-based microcontrollers he realized it was possible to use a low-cost (and relatively low power) chip to build a single-board computer. Using a system-on-a-chip architecture, you could bundle CPU and GPU and memory on a single chip. Using the SOC's general purpose IO ports, you could build it into a device that was easily expandable, booting from a simple SD storage card.

Work on what was to become the Raspberry Pi began in 2006, with a team of volunteers working with simple ARM SOC.

Can anyone remember the first program that they actually wrote (rather than copied from a magazine or downloaded from a friend's cassette tape)? Mine simply moved an asterisk around the screen 'bouncing' off the edges, and was written in Z80 assembly language. That is all I had on my Nascom 1.


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Rich on Monday March 14 2022, @01:06AM

    by Rich (945) on Monday March 14 2022, @01:06AM (#1228987) Journal

    Before I had an Apple II, there was a Sinclair ZX80, and before that, a Casio FX-502P calculator.

    The first program on the Apple I remember was a primitve one-ship, one-alien variant of Space Invaders. I don't remember if I got anything meaningful out of the ZX80, but the Casio taught me to write compact code. I eventually wrote a one-armed-bandit program for it, using the degreeĀ°minuteĀ°second display for the wheels. While that might have been well later than when I got the Apple, I wonder today if I still could pull that off in the 256 program steps it had.

    I remember the last Basic program I wrote on an Apple //c, ca. around 1990, which was called "Tape Mix Arranger". I had a Mac Plus by then, and a IIgs, and high-level languages, but I wanted quick results (much as you'd use Python today) and just hacked it down in Applesoft. It would take a list of songs with their runtime, show the total (so a tape side was perfectly filled), then you could tap the BPM for the songs, and it would sort the songs by BPM. The timing for the later part might have used assembly. I'm pretty certain that the sort was either Bubblesort or Shellsort.

    My Raspis (3 and 4) probably are probably used like most of them: One sits behind the DSL router to serve a tiny bit of web (having replaced a VIA C3 after 18 years to reduce the electricity bill), and the other waits for something useful to do. But there's a Casio FX-502P on my desk right now (although I'm mostly an RPN convert by now).

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