Meet Chip, the world’s first computer that costs only $9. What can a computer that costs only $9 offer? The answer includes most of the basic PC tasks including learning to code, editing spreadsheets, playing Super Mario knockoff games and surfing the web. It is also capable of fitting in the palm of your hand – does size really matter?
It has been created by Next Thing Co. The CEO and co-founder, Dave Rauchwerk, has also previously created a GIF-generating camera that was powered by Raspberry Pi – sporting similar capabilities to Chip. The only problem was that its cost was $35 and this resulted in an increase of the total bill for parts. The end result was the camera being priced at $250 and thus according to Rauchwerk surpassed the ‘impulse buy’ threshold. In simpler words, it became far too expensive to be touted as a fun party toy. Ruachwerk’s solution to the problem was to create a new computer that could replace the Raspberry Pi and thus bring the cost down.
Chip is the manifestation of that solution; a black, simplistic circuit board that is the size of an old Game Boy cartridge and features USB and audio input ports at one side. It is Linux-based and packs a 1 GHz processor, 512 MB of RAM along with 4GB storage. All that the user needs to do is to connect a keyboard, mouse and monitor with it via adaptors and get to work!
Next Thing Co. is already shipping early models to the Kickstarter backers since this fall and is on its way to complete 20,000 orders by March. Now amateur inventors will be able to create gadgets using this mini-computer and would be able to keep the cost to a minimum.
Vice President of marketing, Richard Reininger, said that customers have already announced plans to make weather stations, electronic props for cosplaying, water tank monitors, drones and indie arcade machines along with other ideas by making use of Chip.
Next Thing Co. will be diving back into making consumer gadgets as soon as it’s done perfecting Chip that will be used as a backbone for the future products. Reininger said, “We want to do awesome, cool stuff with it. But making [Chip] be the thing that we want it to be, and what everyone else wants it to be, has to be priority. If it doesn’t work the way we want it to, then nothing else really matters.”
As of right now, the company is in the final phase of development in China where the computers will be manufactured. Reininger further added, “The Android and iOS ecosystem are designed for consumption, and not creation. Chip, in contrast, is designed for makers and tinkerers to modify at will. I get goosebumps when it [turns] on. I have to stop myself all the time. Like, holy crap, this is really incredible.”
Here is an interview with the designers