The Raspberry Pi is a complete microcomputer on a card roughly the size of an Altoids tin. The Arduino is an even smaller microcontroller.  You can hook sensors, switches, lights and motors to both of them and create your own amazing devices  – but if there’s one thing that defines technology, it’s that it doesn’t stand still for very long.  Say hello to Intel’s “Edison”: it’s a complete computer on an SD card.  The miniature computer comes with a dual-core 400Mhz CPU, 500mb of RAM and runs on Linux, the longstanding open source operating system.  Astonishingly, it also supports WiFi and Bluetooth connections.

It’s basically a 1998 desktop computer on a card the size of your thumbnail. To put this in perspective, this device may be small enough so that you can put an entire real working computer inside something like a sonic screwdriver casing.   It will feature the Pentium instruction set, so if you’re a hacker, dig out all those old Pentium assembly language manuals, because suddenly all that’s going to be important again.

Intel introduced the device at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.  They’re hoping that making a computer this tiny with this much power will begin the evolution of The Internet Of Things, where it becomes so easy to make objects intelligent and able to wirelessly communicate with their surroundings.  Intel believes that the Edison device can spawn a whole new age of personal wearable technology.

At CES, Intal also announced partnerships with the Council of Fashion Designers of America and major US retailer Barneys New York,   and also launched the “Make It Wearable” competition with a grand prize of $500,000.  The emphasis is clearly on finding new uses for this tiny computer, and on its potential role in the evolution of computing into an invisible cloud of computing power embedded in everything around you.  The era of ubiquitous computing may well be upon us.

If you want to get your hands on one of these little wonders, you won’t have to wait long.  Intel says they plan to get them into the hands of inventors, engineers and hobbyists by sometime this summer. They are very well aware that there is a thriving hacker community out there that can’t wait to get their hands on something like this.  There’s no word on what the pricing will be like, but chances are pretty good they’ll be under $200.

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