Raspberry Pi hits the shelves - briefly

The first wave of Raspberry Pi computers -- credit card-size devices that are designed to serve as teaching aids -- shipped this weekend after a series of delays. However, manufacturer RF Technologies is already out of stock again.

The first wave of Raspberry Pi computers -- credit card-size devices that are designed to serve as teaching aids -- shipped this weekend after a series of delays. However, manufacturer RF Technologies is already out of stock again.

PREVIOUSLY: Tiny Linux computer punches above its weight

According to a recent report from The Inquirer, the company shipped just 700 of the devices out of the 220,000 preorders that were received six weeks ago. The volume of interest in the Raspberry Pi startled its nonprofit backers and they temporarily took down an ordering website.

Now, the U.K. tech news site asserted that some of the items are already up on eBay -- and going for more than $220, in contrast to their roughly $40 retail price tag.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation said that the product had only recently passed compliance tests, which accounts for most of the delay in getting the tiny computers to market. An earlier manufacturing error also complicated the process, as did an issue finalizing the custom Fedora distribution that provides the Raspberry Pi's operating system.

According to the foundation, the idea behind the Raspberry Pi is to provide a cheap, bare-bones computing system on which beginning programmers can take their first steps. The current generation of young developers, the organization says, doesn't have an equivalent of the Commodore 64 and Amiga machines, thanks to the rise of dedicated gaming consoles.

However, a host of other novel applications for the Raspberry Pi have been suggested, ranging from the Pirate Bay's idea of sticking the device in a drone aircraft to create a mobile server to building it into a VoIP/high-frequency radio system, as suggested by 091 Labs' Gerry Kavanagh in an interview with the Irish Times.

Follow Jon Gold on Twitter at @NWWJonGold and email him at jgold@nww.com. Especially if you want to give him a Raspberry Pi to play with.

Read more about software in Network World's Software section.

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