Open Source

This Raspberry Pi-inspired Z-Berry board will take you back to the dawn of home computing

The ​Z-Berry is a single-board computer that is the same size as the Raspberry Pi and is built around the Zilog Z80 processor used in the ZX Spectrum, a best-selling British computer launched in 1982.

The multi-million selling Raspberry Pi was created to rekindle the curiosity about computers that the BBC Micro inspired in the 1980s.

Now the cycle has come full circle, with a hardware enthusiast creating a tiny board using components dating from the BBC's heyday, more than 30 years ago.

The Z-Berry is a single-board computer that is the same size as the Raspberry Pi and is built around the Zilog Z80 processor used in the ZX Spectrum, a best-selling British computer launched in 1982.

The 10MHz processor in the Z-Berry is orders of magnitude slower than the quad-core 1.2GHz ARM-based Broadcom processor in the latest Pi, but speed is not the point of this homebrew machine.

True to the high-end computers of the era, the Z-Berry has 512KB RAM, as well as 32KB of Read Only Memory (ROM) to store the board's firmware.

SEE: An $89 Raspberry Pi rival that runs full Windows 10 and Android

While the uses for the board are obviously more limited than the Pi, the Z-Berry has been demoed playing a numbers-themed Tetris clone called Numeris, on its attached 0.9-inch, monochrome I2C OLED display. Others hardware enthusiasts are debating whether CP/M, an operating system last updated in 1983 could be ported to the retro board.

Being the same size as the Pi, the Z-Berry fits inside Raspberry Pi cases and also includes a 40-pin GPIO header for attaching custom hardware to the board.

The homemade machine uses an SD card for storage and Micro-USB for power, a PS/2 keyboard connector, as well an I2C and an SPI bus.

If you fancy your hand at creating a Z-Berry, the board's creator has posted many details, including a schematic of the board and a list of components needed.

Read more about the Raspberry Pi

About Nick Heath

Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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