There are many posts and conversations out on the open web by users of the Rpi. Many are about projects completed using it. Some positive. Some negative. But very few have I seen that express elation over the learning possibilities afforded by these little computers.
I recently purchased my first Rpi, the Rpi2 model B. I did so because I have longed to learn how to program assembly language for many years. Though I had a Commodore VIC-20 as a youngster, I had merely dabbled in BASIC programming. Never anything deeper. Raised a farm kid, there just wasn't much money and time to dig very deep into computers and technology.
Already at that time (1980s) higher level languages were most commonplace in schools. We were never taught much in the way of assembly or bare metal. Schools had rooms filled with Apple 2C computers that were shared among all students, and were only to be used according to the school curriculum. Experimentation on school property outside of that curriculum was frowned upon and unwanted.
As is the case, I've only gotten older over the years, and time just slips on by before one realizes it. Over these past few years, being in my late 40s now, I have been weeping that I never had much opportunity to learn assembly, microcontrollers, and remote controlling circuits. Even as an 'Extra Class' ham radio operator who has been through some involved learning in electronics, I have never had a chance to get 'intimate' with any of the computer equipment I have owned. Part of that has always been fear of messing things up on an expensive PC. Another part is that the x86 architecture is super complicated for learning assembly and bare-metal programming. I always thought RISC based equipment would be better to learn on, but computers featuring it today are far and few between.
Along came the Raspberry Pi foundation with their super little Raspberry Pi computers, at a very shocking and affordable price. You have been true to your desired goal by making such a low-cost option available. With children in my life nowadays, disposable income is nearly non-existent. Without you, I wouldn't have had any hope.
I am now using the book "Raspberry Pi Assembly Language, Raspbian Beginners". Although it is far from bare metal programming or microcontroller assembly programming since it uses Linux OS I/O features that are available already, it's a start. With the reduced instruction set (even though the ARMv7 is still rather complex), I feel I might have a fighting chance here.
The goal is to become comfortable with assembly language on this little computer first, with the distant goal of having a much easier time figuring out how to use assembly on other architectures -- specifically various microcontrollers. With the ARM based M series of controllers, it may not be too much trouble to transfer what I will have already learned on the ARMv7 series via the Rpi2. Blinking LED experiments have been beaten to a bloody pulp with Arduino and Rpi videos on YouTube, etc. I have some really 'mighty' goals that go beyond cookie-cutter experiments. And also hope to incorporate the Rpi2 into some of my ham radio experimentation and networking experiments as well.
I wanted to make my first post here on the forums a hearty THANK YOU to all of you at the Raspberry Pi foundation for what you have shared with the world. Since you have been true to your goal in wanting people to use this little computer to learn something with, I am working at being true to your goal as well by doing with it what you originally intended.
Of course, yes I will likely do other handy things with the cute little thing too. A little web server. Entertainment center streamer. SIP phone PBX. Indeed!
But above all, I am now able to afford something on which to learn. And to hopefully still do great things... maybe even before I reach 50!!
Thank you, and keep up the excellent work!!! Perhaps one day I can contribute something useful to your foundation to pass along the benefit to others.