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Computer and change for a $10 bill: First units of $9 computer are shipping now

Earlier this year, the Chip computer made plenty of headlines following its massive success on Kickstarter, raising some $2 million beyond a pledge goal of just $50,000. Now, the first run of devices is beginning to be distributed to backers.

Like many crowdfunding success stories, the Chip has a unique selling point that differentiates it from previously existing products. In this case, it’s the fact that the computer itself costs just $9 — although, of course, things like a monitor, an input device, and shipping are not included in that figure.

Still, it’s a fully functioning computer that can be had for less than the price of a movie ticket. The device offers support for the open source LibreOffice package, has a Wi-Fi connection so you can surf the web, and even allows for a Bluetooth controller to be connected so you can play some games.

This is a real computer, it’s just a smaller and cheaper model than most others. It’s an intriguing look at a future where the price barrier for computers has truly been removed, and the fact that almost 40,000 people backed the project suggests that there’s plenty of interest in such an idea.

The devices shipping at the moment are Alpha prototypes which are targeted at enthusiast hackers, according to a report from Liliputing. The Chip appeals to this crowd in much the same way an Arduino or a Raspberry Pi would, but it’s also been designed such that it could be used in an educational setting, or as a light system to introduce novice users to computing.

The standard version of the Chip is anticipated to start shipping early next year. The group behind the project is currently focusing on fulfilling the devices ordered as part of the Kickstarter campaign, but the system will be available for purchase directly at a later date via the Next Thing Co. website.

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