I have seen the future, and it’s cheap

The computer of the future costs $25.

Its specs aren’t overwhelming–700 MHz ARM CPU, 128 MB RAM, Ubuntu Linux–but it could be a general-purpose computer for some people. Or a thin client. It could also be a tinkerer’s delight, which I think was the developer’s idea.

For $25, you can afford to tinker with it. And it will use a lot less power than the 700 MHz Pentium 3 in the attic. In a pinch, you can connect it straight up to an LCD monitor or flat-panel TV and use it as a computer, but it’s small and cheap enough to embed in projects. What kinds of projects? Use your imagination.

Which seems to be the creator’s point. There’s not enough imagination in the industry these days. There’s more than there was five years ago–I blame Android–but not as much as in the 1980s and early 1990s, when the large computer manufacturers published actual schematics in the back of the manual.

One could say there’s less that needs to be invented right now. But is there? Or have we just run short on imagination?

Maybe being able to put a 700 MHz ARM-based computer anyplace there would be room for an old-school USB flash drive will help. It can’t hurt.

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