New Raspberry Pi 400 reminds me of my early computing days

in Raspberry Pi2 years ago

Today the Raspberry Pi Foundation announced a new product. This is a computer built into a keyboard, which is a lot like my old BBC Micro and Amigas, but somewhat more powerful. It appears to use a new board in order to get all the connectors lines up along the back.

It is clocked a bit faster than the standard Pi 4 at 1.8GHz and has 4GB of RAM, which may be enough for a lot of uses. A kit with power supply, mouse, SD card and HDMI cable is under £100.

I have not used a Pi 4 yet, but I understand they can handle a lot of basic web tasks. You can even run two screens from one of these and you have access to lots of Linux apps.

For comparison, my BBC Model A in about 1981 had 16kB of memory and a 1MHz processor. It cost about £300, which might be equivalent to over £1000 today. I had a lot of fun with it.

I know a lot of people will say they need something more powerful, but lots of people do not have a computer at home. They may just use their phone for any online activity. That has limited options for experimenting with things like programming. I learnt to program on my 'Beeb'. The Pi was intended to get kids programming, but took off more amongst hobbyists than schools. I would hope a lot of kids with a limited budget will get one of these to plug into their TV and start learning. The way things are going they may be doing more learning from home and having the tools to do that is essential.

Who is going to buy one?


Oh Boy.

Being a child of the 80s (first computer - Acorn Atom, forerunner to the Beeb), that just gets the juices flowing.

I need one. No idea what I'd use it for, but that's a secondary issue when GAS kicks in! (Though @darrenflinders recent post may be a clue...)

It is a lovely thing, indeed.

But did you build your own Atom from a kit or buy one ready-made? lol

Oh, well remembered!

Mine was prebuilt....

I never had an Atom, but the Beeb was a quality machine. This just looks so neat. I don't have a real need for it either, but why should that stop us?


Haha - indeed. We'll figure it out when we get it!

The Atom was really shonky - I have fond memories of swapping 2114 RAM chips depending on what I wanted to do - it had 6k text and 6k video RAM. I only had about 8k in total (I think), so if I wanted 'hi-res' graphice I'd pullsome chips and pop them in the video RAM. However, if I needed more space for code, I had to put it back in the text back.

Happy Days...

Still got it upstairs...

I bought the chips to upgrade my Beeb to the full 32k! Can't remember what that cost, but just had to put them in the sockets. I needed to be able to play games like Elite. I only ever used cassette with it as a floppy drive cost a lot. Happy days indeed.

I sold mine many years later when having a clear-out. I hate getting rid of stuff generally as there is often regret.


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That is super cool!
I also remember the BBC Computer. Its what we were taught computing on at my high school.

My first computer, a TI99 4A was also built into the keyboard.

I've long thought there was potential for this sort of form factor. Most people don't need an expandable PC and a laptop may be too expensive.

I'm a little sorry I sold my old computers. I know there are emulators, but hardware is cool.

70 bucks is not a bad price at all. I recently got a model 4 and I love it. I think this is a great thing for kids. Get started with just 70 bucks.

I saw it today in a tweet and loved it immediately. I have an old Pi 3 I purchased a couple of years ago to play with, I think this time I will get the 8Gb version to do some crypto experiments with it :)

They only seem to do the 400 with 4GB, which is a shame. Still got the option of making up your own system. I would think someone would do a keyboard you could mount a standard Pi4 into.

I missed that announcement today but it looks cool. Just being able to plug into any screen and fire it up seems like an excellent way to get people into Linux. From what I hear over there, the schools seem to be using a lot of Arduino for interfacing and more practical experimental uses.
I wish I had the time to get back to simply 'fiddling' again!

I've not played with Arduino, but they seem cool. I've seen lots of cool things built around the Pi. It can be overkill for some, but it's cheap enough to not worry too much.

I think I have more than enough stuff for now but what a lovely tidy upgrade. I pointed this out to a colleague who got all excited over it. I gather he automates his model railway using Raspberry Pie.

I know someone who is automating his trains and building the hardware himself. That stuff has come a long way.

This looks ace.
I think my boy (6) might get something out of it.
Is the programming side of things easy to navigate?

I literally have no idea about that stuff but happy to learn with him if it has potential

I think there are various programming tools available. You can run Scratch on it, which is a good one for kids to get started. I know there was a way to run Minecraft on a Pi and control it with Python code. Found it here. Various resources here.

Excellent! Thanks

That looks good. I use my desktop a lot so am a bit concerned with trying to do or learn any coding on it, I might have to try one out. I have been seeing a lot of raspberry-pi post so maybe something I can play and learn, like the old TSR 80 computers only a thinner lighter weight keyboard.

You shouldn't generally mess up your PC by playing with programming. You can always use a virtual machine to be safe. The Pi makes for a nice playground to try stuff though. It is easy to hook up extra hardware such as switches and LEDs.

I have been seeing a lot of raspberry-pi post, and some of the things are pretty fun looking. Even after almost 30 years I am still not sure how to set up a virtual machine on my desktop. I played a little bit with Basic a long long time ago, and some MS Visual basic. So the Raspberry-Pi seems like it would be a fool proof safe way to try doing some tinker learning.

That is pretty awesome! If I can get my hands on one I might pick one up to play around with at work. Having the keyboard built right in a huge plus for me.

Having less cables is generally a good thing. Seems it can run from power over Ethernet too, but I doubt many homes have that.

I have several Raspberry Pi anyway. I need to use those before I buy another one.

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