The first computers that we know of were the size of entire rooms. Just look at this model of Charles Babbage’s 1837 Analytical Machine, which was finally completed in 1910. This machine was capable of recording hard data and making physical print-outs of it.
We didn’t see the first digital computer until it was completed in 1946. It took almost half a decade and we were still about 50 year away from the computers we use today.
Flash forward to 2016. Computers with factory-installed Linux can fit inside your wall outlet phone charger. They’re in a beeper-sized Raspberry Pi. There’s a company in Switzerland that made a mouse into a computer! The year of the tiny is upon us.
Let’s delve into this further, shall we? But first! I must clarify that I have found some categories for these devices… by shape! So, there we go. Wee!
If you don’t know about the ongoing developments with the Raspberry Pi, you might as well just forego this entire article, because the sheer tininess of the Pi is what ultimately led me on this quest for the ultimate tiny computer article. So, there’s an entire world out there, with the sole purpose of letting developers have their way with open-source hardware so they may create LED displays or Nintendo controller emulators, just for fun, essentially. And the people working on the Raspberry Pi are busy enculturating you into their video doctrine of be-all, share-all. So, this is the best place to start, if you’re one of those DIY-ers who feels that nothing is unattainable.
Intel Compute Stick
The Intel Compute Stick has 1GB of RAM, enough to browse the net, stream your Netflix, and all the light insta-computing you can handle in a computer the size of a large flash drive. It has 8GB of flash memory, for storage (but you’ll probably just load data from the Cloud, I assume). It has Bluetooth AND WiFi, so you can be as productive as you please in whichever coffee shop you deem fit. All you need is a monitor with a USB-port and presto! You’re on your way to excusing yourself from another hour-long meeting to pop in and say the occasional words of acknowledgement, vis-a-vis your nearest bar, or whatever it is you do on your lunchbreak… ’cause that’s when they usually schedule meetings…
Quanta’s Computer Plug
Quanta’s Computer Plug packs the power of a fully-functional Windows 10 machine into the size of a phone charger. And it runs on Cortana (a Microsoft-version voice-activated assistant, much like Siri for Apple.)
The video says it all. This company in Poland needs your help, and I think you should help them! This is sort of genius. Why not have the ability to dual-boot your personal PC then switch back to your work comp all through the power of two USBs? It seems like an ingenious idea, so… let’s do this, you guys! It’s still in the Kickstarter stage, so maybe we can help them out?
This globe-like appendage is purported to deliver the most information to the most people possible across the globe–all without an internet connection. Here’s how it works: It’s simple. The Endless Mini is already preloaded with apps and tons of wiki pages to keep the curious citizens of remote regions sated, at least until they begin to hunger for more. THEN, they’ll need to go online to get the necessary updates. But! This cool-looking computer is pretty cheap at $79. At least, I know that much is true.
Zotac ZBOX Sphere
The ZBOX has a 4-in-1 card reader, perfect for on-the-go photogs and videographers. One of the most appealing things about this little guy is that you can screw off the top to access the innards of the machine. You can customize this thing at will.
So, that’s it. That’s all I have for now. But, I assure you there’s more to come.
Oh, and on a side note, I just got this new Chromebook for $180 (on sale for $150 a day after I bought it) and it’s light (11 in., 3 lbs) and tiny and super fast! Yes, my friends, the future is bright for this wee lass. All the tiny.