Feb. 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM ET
DIY'ers looking for a bargain converged en masse yesterday with the launch of the Raspberry Pi, a compact Linux-based computer advertised for $35 -- except that its two retailers are already crippled by the onslaught of demand.
Raspberry Pi tried to soothe the irate masses that could not snap up the deal quickly enough by posting this note on its website: "Both websites are currently experiencing heavy load, and international customers may find that Raspberry Pi is not available yet in their territory. Please be patient, and consider checking back in a few hours' time."
The retailers, Premier Farnell or RS Components, each posted an apology for consumers in search of the credit-card sized computer board, which plugs into a monitor and keyboard, and is considered a great starter computer for kids who want to know what's under the hood of the magic machines they've grown up with. It does many of the things expected of a personal home computer -- and plays high-def video. (Who knows, maybe it'll inspire the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs!)
Premier Farnell posted this:
Following the successful launch of Raspberry Pi Board B this morning we've seen unprecedented levels of interest in this product. Stocks from Raspberry Pi of the initial production quantity are limited and these have already sold out. For those of you who have already pre-ordered, we will let you know in the next few days when you can expect your delivery. We're working very closely with Raspberry Pi to ensure we meet the demand as soon as possible. We will be one of the first to have Raspberry Pi's in stock and delivered to you, so if you haven't been able to pre-order, register your interest below so we can let you know as soon as you can order again and keep you updated with the latest on availability.
And RS, this: "We are expecting to receive our first deliveries very shortly, so will be in touch soon with ordering instructions."
Although the Raspberry Pi Foundation is based in the UK, both retailers have worldwide distribution networks.
The $35 Model B is the one that caused the stampede. It runs on a 700MHz ARM processor with 256MB of RAM, HDMI and RCA video outputs, two USB ports (or, as they say in Brit speak, "sockets"), one Ethernet port and SD card storage. The $25 Model A, which is coming soon, has all that, minus the USB and Ethernet ports.
Premier Farnell anticipated that those who buy the Raspberry Pi may want the extras that make it look and feel like the computers they're accustomed, so it's also put together a bundle that includes a wireless mouse, keyboard, Wi-Fi dongle and SD card reader. Hopefully, that will arrive in a timely fashion once it satisfies the current demand for just the board.
On Twitter, follow Athima Chansanchai, who is also trying to keep her head above water in the Google+ stream.