CHIP computer

That tiny thing is the CHIP, a $9 computer with extraordinary versatile capabilities. Image: Kickstarter

Next Thing Co, a fledgling company started by three budding hardware enthusiasts, just released a KickStarter campaign in which they promise to release a computer worth nine USD. The computer, called CHIP, can do everything 90% of all people usually use computers for: office apps, surf the web and play games. The team hoped to raise $50,000 to supplement their own budget and start rolling orders at an assembly line in China. Right now, $1,040,006 were donated as I’m writing this and the numbers are swelling with 24 days still to go. Are we finally seeing the fruits of liberalizing computing and economics of scale?

chip gif

Everybody takes computers for granted today, and it’s easy to see why considering they’re ubiquitous. There are billions, however, who’ve never had a PC, and the CHIP computer (nice word play) might be a perfect fit for them, despite its makers designed it as a hacker’s playground.

“To sell C.H.I.P. for $9, we need to order tens of thousands of CHIPs. By using common, available, and volume-produced processor, memory, and wifi CHIPs, we are able to leverage the scales at which tablet manufacturers operate to get everyone the best price,” the hardware enthusiasts explain in their official KickStarter video.

The CHIP comes with 1 GHz processor, 512 MBs of RAM, 4 GB storage, along with WIFI and Bluetooth, all packed on a board the size of a matchbox. Any kind of display can be fitted with its on-board adapters, old or new (VGA and HDMI). You can use it as a programming platform, as an office work stage, to surf the web, play games or even as a music player. There’s a portable version called Pocket C.H.I.P. which gives C.H.I.P. a 4.3” touchscreen, QWERTY keyboard, and 5-hour battery – in a case small enough to fit in your back pocket. The Pocket C.H.I.P. is priced at $49, though.

A demo of a video games played on CHIP. Image: Kickstarter

A demo of a video games played on CHIP. Image: Kickstarter

“Save your documents to CHIP’s onboard storage. Surf the web…Play games with a Bluetooth controller. But wait. there’s more.” The camera shifts to a mannequin’s pocket, and the presenter says “This is PocketCHIP. It makes CHIP portable. Take CHIP, put it into PocketCHIP and you can use CHIP anywhere.”

CHIP is also fully open source.

“We built C.H.I.P. to make tiny powerful computers more accessible and easier to use. A huge part of making C.H.I.P. accessible is making sure that it can change to meet the needs of the community. That’s why both C.H.I.P. and PocketC.H.I.P. are both TOTALLY OPEN SOURCE.This means all hardware design files schematic, PCB layout and bill of materials are free for you the community to download, modify and use.”

The Pocket CHIP. Image: Kickstarter

The Pocket CHIP. Image: Kickstarter