Top 10 Raspberry Pi highlights from its first year

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ONE YEAR AGO, the world was thrilled by the launch of the Raspberry Pi computer, an ARM based Linux computer aimed at getting school kids interested in technology and programming.

To celebrate the first anniversary of the Raspberry Pi, we’ve put together our favourite features and milestones for the little bare-bones Linux computer.

Raspberry Pi

One million and counting
The Raspberry Pi's sales of one million in a year is more akin to those of a consumer electronics device rather than a computer designed for enthusiasts.

Since the Raspberry Pi Foundation put the credit card sized computer on sale, distributors needed months to meet demand, yet consumers waited patiently for the device to arrive. It's no surprise to see why the firm was able to shift so many Raspberry Pi devices, the initial £25 price tag made it wallet friendly and the software and wider community showcased just how much can be done with the little bare-bones computer.

What a bargain
If the Raspberry Pi Foundation's goal of creating a £25 computer seemed, if you pardon the pun, pie in the sky, then its ability to design, manufacture and sell a slightly cut down version of the original board at just £19.80 is nothing short of astounding.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation announced its Model A board less than a year after the Model B, slashing the price by over 20 percent. While the Foundation cut the price, the specification of the Raspberry Pi Model A is almost identical to the first generation Raspberry Pi Model B, with 256MB RAM.

At less than £20, the Raspberry Pi offers a number of possibilities and a large amount of computing power for the money and makes computing even more accessible to those with limited budgets who want to play around with a real computer and learn vital skills.

Google loves Pi
The Foundation’s lofty ambitions to enthuse a new generation of programmers got a welcome boost in January when technology giant Google rode in with a generous offer.

Not only would executive chairman Eric Schmidt give up a few hours of his time to teach some Cambridge students – and before you accuse him of elitism, don’t worry, it was a community college – but Google also offered to stump up the cash to buy 15,000 Pi to hand out to school kids across the UK.

If the Raspberry Pi Foundation ever wants to launch in North Korea, it has a perfect brand ambassador in waiting.

Pickaxe meets picked fruit
If ever a hobbyist game and hobbyist machine were ever to come together and fall in love, our money would have been on Minecraft and the Raspberry Pi. The two are both simple in concept but have that equal appeal to the obsessive, the control freak, the tinkerer, or the person who stands up and says, "I can do that! Get out of my way."

The Minecraft version for the Raspberry Pi seemed to burst onto the system like one of its titular fruits being stamped on. It was coded in a frenzied few days, apparently this is the Minecraft way, and has been lovingly laid out over the passing months. It was made available, for free, in February this year. If you have a pickaxe and a Pi, you probably know that already. Minecraft: Pi Edition runs on Raspbian Wheezy with XWindows.

Indelible Pi

Raspberry Pi tattoo

Raspberry Pi might be celebrating only its first-year anniversary, but one crazed pocket PC fan has already gone and got a tattoo of the company logo.

Paul Rainer von Hasberg from the US is the tattooed Raspberry Pi fan, and he is apparently the first person in the world to get a tattoo dedicated to the £22 computer. The tattoo is on his ankle, and joins his Linux and Android ink.

The INQUIRER team had a chat with Paul, who told us that he's been hooked on all things technical since 1987, before falling in love with Linux back in April 2005.

Of course, it was last year when he found his latest addiction, the Raspberry Pi, which he uses to run a slideshow in his, wait for it, tattoo shop.

Snap happy

In early February the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that the Raspberry Pi has a camera attachment.

The camera module is an OV5647 part made by Omnivision, and a foundation member said it weighs "naff all". It has a fixed focus 5MP sensor that is capable of 2592x1944 stills, and 1080p30, 720p60 and 640x480p60/90 video.

Even better, the little camera add-on measures just 20x25x10mm and the sensor is 8x8x5mm.

Mammoth memory
The Raspberry Pi Model B was released last October with 512MB of RAM for the same price as the original model that had just 256MB of memory. That's enough memory to run a general purpose computer, and enables some interesting embedded use cases - using Java, for example - that are slightly too large to fit in 256MB, or any number of other things.

Built in Britain
One of the interesting but lesser known facts about the Raspberry Pi is that on its original release, all the manufacturing was carried out in Asia. It was a strange situation: a computing device that was so clearly flying the flag for UK technology, but we had to send it overseas for production due to taxation, cost and timing issues.

raspberry-pi-made-in-uk-linux-computer

But this all changed in September, when the Foundation announced they’d found a way to bring manufacturing back to Britain. The Pi is now being built at Sony's Welsh design facility and proudly displays "Made in the UK" lettering on the board itself. The move created 30 new jobs in the area, and further cements Raspberry Pi’s position as a true example of British technology innovation.

Pis in Space
Keen to follow those space-travelling pigs dressed in shiny silver suits, the Raspberry Pi has also left our planet.

The tiny computer was dispatched from earth controlling a mini-Tardis, a choice that its creators Dave and Anthony Stirk of Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator (LOHAN) made due to there being "more electronics than usual to pack inside the payload".

The Pi-powered Tardis reached an altitude of 35,409 metres, streaming live video and images from the stratosphere back to earth over a 3G dongle plugged into one of Pi Model B’s USB ports.

LOHAN says the next Pi flight will be a model a with the new Pi camera, so keep your eyes peeled for a flying Tardis sometime very soon - just don't tell your friends, they might think you're from another planet.

Raspberry Pi and the droid you ARE looking for
Some say that romance is dead. We say those people are idiots. For proof you need to look no further than the sterling work done by this Chinese chap for his girlfriend.

The man behind it, a Youtube user called Greensheller, describes it simply. It is an, "R2D2 Robot Powered by Raspberry Pi" that he built from scratch for the love in his life. It looks great and it makes all the right noises. It is not a diamond ring or flowers, but it is the sort of present that we think anyone could get along with.

The robot can understand both English and Chinese commands and will respond to a variety of voice requests. Naturally it can play a version of the Star Wars theme.

The R2D2 model is a broken toy that has been fitted with a Raspberry Pi running Rasbian and offers a world of interactive, beepy, romantic, geeky fun. Sadly you can't make your own, as Greensheller says that he has no time to produce a guide because he is making another one for his wedding. Awww. Doesn't that just warm your heart. µ

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