The first computer I ever encountered was the SAGE system (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) used by the 33rd Air Defence Command at Fort Lee, VA. This 1950’s behemoth consumed as much floor space as offered by an average-sized ranch-style house. This thing used vacuum tubes and each tube was individually air-conditioned. You did not just walk thru the computer room, you also walked through the computer.

Earlier this year, I purchased a TonidoPlug2. This is a Linux machine that fits in the palm of your hand. It runs on a trickle of current and can be connected to your router via either Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Mine has a terabyte of storage and is essentially a file server that I can access from anywhere . . . including my tablet.

Then there’s the Raspberry Pi, a pocket-sized PC that costs $35.00. Like the TonidoPlug2, you have to supply the storage – in this case, an SD Card – and uses the Linux operating system. Of course, you’ll need a monitor but it has a HDMI connection so all you need there is a TV w/ HDMI. Add a keyboard and you’re good to go.

Tech Republic has a gallery that documents the unboxing of the Raspberry Pi from the shipping folder to being hooked up and ready to go. They also have a gallery with 5 alternatives to the Pi. Even if you’re not interested in owning one of these puppies, the photo galleries are worth a look!

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