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DIY kit computer goes Forth against Braben's RaspberryPi

Are the 80s format wars back?

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Elite developer David Braben's RaspberryPi may have generated headlines aplenty, but it's not the first 1980s-style teach-yourself-programming gadget, one Reg reader insists.

Step forward Julian Skidmore, developer and seller of FIGnition, a 20 quid DIY "retro computer built with modern parts... designed to be built by its users, coded - it boots into its programming language - and understood".

FIGnition

"The key thing to producing programmers in kids is that you need ridiculously simple computers, with Kilobytes of memory and relatively modest performance," says Skidmore.

"It's simplicity that produces understanding, ability and excitement."

Simplicity? Try 8KB of memory, 384KB of Flash storage and an Atmel AVR 8-bit microcontroller as a CPU.

Keyboard? That 2 x 4 array of buttons on the right-hand side are your eight data-entry keys.

FIGnition is a kit computer comprising motherboard and solder-yourself components. There's a USB port for power, and a phone-style PAL video output so it can be hooked up to a telly as a monitor.

FIGnition

Just like it used to be...

Unlike the mass of early 80s home computers - but familiar to anyone who played with a Jupiter Ace all those years ago - FIGnition boots into a Forth language interpreter.

Skidmore promises to open up the hardware at the end of the month for folk who really want to do it themselves, though he's selling kits too.

Read all the details at the FIGnition website. ®

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