What the 1980s would have made of the $5 Raspberry Pi

Are u disappoint? Off to the list with you!


I wouldn’t be too quick to blame overcharging. I think the basic economic equation just no longer adds up. It’s very difficult for arcades to offer something over and above what people can do in their own home (or even out and about on mobile devices). Usually they have to resort to large scale mechanical features (cockpits, dance pads, large and complicated controllers, etc.). This drives the cost of the units way up. There’s no swapping of boards and decals to update to a new game. Also, the costs for maintaining the floor space needed to house the units have continued to go up and up. Against the plummeting costs associated with personal gaming hardware, as amply demonstrated by the original article, arcades have no option to be anything but a niche enterprise. Direct competition for a major slice of mainstream gaming is impractical. What arcades survive, do so largely on nostalgia. That’s not to say arcades today can’t be a ton of fun, but it’s nearly impossible to get the number of people in the door in the first place to sustain a large scale industry. Dropping the price back down to a quarter per play wouldn’t turn that around (setting aside inflationary impacts for a moment).


My biggest problem with the Pi (more of a grumble/bellyachin’), is that it still has a lot of hardware dependencies that need to be met. We got a bunch of cheap Pis for our library, but to get them up and running you still need:

-hard point Ethernet jack
-an HDMI monitor with inbuilt speakers
-an SD card
-a power supply

Institutionally, that’s a big bill of materials, especially if you are looking for lots of stuff that is also cheap and durable. At a certain point we had to ask ourselves what we were trying to accomplish and said “screw it, let’s just use laptops.”

The moral of the story is that educational objectives should always be closely paired with the underlying hardware. Sometimes I think the advertising campaign for the Raspberry Pi skips over that a bit too lightly.

I also get the impression that I’m often trying to use the raspberry pie for the wrong sorts of stuff :smile:

/still suck at Linux



1 Like

That video is the Spectrum. Great machine but quite a bit more than $99.

£130 for the 48K version, £99 for the 16K version.


Oh yes. I know. The keyword was “legacy” since it was just a neat successor.

It was a good excuse an any to remind people of a cool song.

Well, you don’t need all of these for each one depending on what you’re doing. Most of my pi’s in projects run headless with either a wifi dongle or an ethernet cable once condifured. No monitor, keyboard, etc required.

I like this already. According to Wikipedia, the VideoBrain had only one programming language available. I’m guessing[quote=“SamSam, post:10, topic:69891”]
Raspberry Pi C͏t͝h̨̀ul͏h͜͡͏u͠͝
will use the same language, so they might end up having something in common. :wink:

1 Like

You have it in a box have to do that somewhen.

The basic 360 had a clock frequency around 1MHz, but it didn’t have pipelining, thus explaining why an instruction needed around 30 clock cycles. It was a 32 bit machine with 16 general purpose registers.
Exact speed comparison is difficult because although modern cpus are very fast, main memory has quite a lot of wait states. Operations that live in cache might be ten thousand times faster on the pi than on that early 360, but if main memory is constantly involved the speedup might not be so great.
I can only think of two other engineering achievements which are even comparable to the increase of computer power over the last four decades; the operational range of spaceflight and the energies of particle colliders. And they too have only been made possible by the integrated circuit.


Wow. I’m impressed. Being both old and geeky, I assumed I knew all the early 8-bit computers (at least the US ones), but I haven’t even heard of this one. Love the keyboard – while it lacks many standard symbols due to space, they managed to include two ones (cent and pi) that aren’t even on modern keyboards!

1 Like

18 years ago, a one teraflop supercomputer was first brought online. It took 1600 sq ft. and required 850kW to run. Nvidia just came out with a roughly arduino/pi form factor gpu that does one teraflop, and runs on less than 10 watts. You can have one pilot your drone.


Pipelining is a basic feature of all modern processors. FLOPS don’t equal ticks.

So twenty people can use the same monitor and keyboard simultaneously.

This is an institution. Which means the RPi is being used either experimentally or as a workstation replacement. And in the experimental cases it’s still less efficient if not everyone can learn how to use a RPi before KVM stuff comes into play.

1 Like

As I said, it depends on what you’re doing.


I’m sure the one in the picture could have piloted a drone, if only the drone could be made large enough.


It actually has pads on the board to connect it to good old composite video and analog audio.

I know this is rear end backwards, but wouldn’t it make sense to use VX Connectbot or VNCviewer on a phone or tablet to get terminal access to the Pi? For embedded use, isn’t that enough?
I would guess that for educational use an appeal might get enough used phones.
If you have several classes, the obvious advantage is that everybody can have their own dedicated project and work on it in class time, and many kids could take their project home to work on.

In my first embedded project I was using a $5 microcontroller which was being managed by a $15000 workstation/development system. In the field, it was debugged using an early handheld terminal made by Husky.


That’s one of those thought experiments I do in my head. If we were given some sort of advanced technology, at what point do you use it as intended, and at what point do you take it apart to learn how it works (and possibly destroy it in a way you cannot repair, or, even worse, detect how its broken).