It all started with a challenge from a 7-year-old. Micah wanted to build a computer. But he wanted to do it himself.
And why not? We live in extraordinary times. A single-board supercomputer costs less than a curling iron. You can get Internet on Mount Everest. Our culture is opening, our classrooms are changing, and the barriers to invention have never been lower.
The dream of a self-made world is (slowly) coming to pass. Technology is the medium, but humanity is (still) the message. We believe this moment calls for a new kind of computer company. Today, we’re proud to announce that Kano, the first computer anyone can make, is available to the public.
Kano is a computer you build and code yourself – a kit to plug, play, and create with technology, not just consume it. It started as an idea between family and friends: a story sketched on the floor of a playroom, bundled into 10 cardboard boxes, and set in-front of hopeful hands in a North London classroom to test it out.
I remember that first workshop vividly. Especially, a young gent named Khalid, 9. After an hour of building computers and coding mountains in Minecraft, I asked Khalid how he felt. “You know, adults think we’re a bit incapable,” he said. “But today, we made a computer, and talked to it with this, like, Matrix code. That makes us super-children.”
In the last two week, nearly 18,000 families in 86 countries have been building their first computer, coding magic, exploring a new world – to read reactions on Twitter, especially from those who backed us when we were just an idea, has been a joy and a privilege. The conversation continues…
In this new world, kids of all ages, all over the world, are waking up to their new powers. They’re diving below the Angry Birds, speaking with open hearts and open-source software, and unlocking the magic within – not just to get a job or a grade, but to gain inspiration.
We designed Kano for all ages, all over the world, and it’s found a sweet spot with creative and curious 6 to 14 year-olds. Built on top of the Raspberry Pi, the pioneering single-board computer, Kano comes as a plug-and-play kit. It’s based on simple steps, physical computing, and play. Kano’s hardware slots together like Lego, sparking sounds, lights, and colorful customization. You’re guided by illustrated storybooks, available in seven languages.
Kano comes with the pieces to build an open-source personal computer and speaker, Kano guides aspiring makers through creative projects on-screen. You make games like Pong and Snake, beats and songs, wireless servers, massive Minecraft worlds, websites, and apps. As you make and play, you earn points and level up your character, sharing your creations with an active community. In pre-release alpha, early Kano makers have shared over half a million lines of code.
Children of all ages are taking on community projects, like building an FM radio receiver, streaming video signals to an iPad.
Kano was inspired and created by people all around the world, from Al Alcorn (inventor of Pong) to Suli Breaks (spoken-word artist) to Kelvin Doe (teenage engineering prodigy) to Micah, my little cousin.
We give deepest thanks to the 13,387 backers from 87 countries who backed us on Kickstarter. We hoped to raise $100,000 in 30 days, you got us there in 18 hours. You shaped our thinking, contributed to our code, challenged, harangued, and inspired us to heights we could never have imagined.
Moving from “cool Kickstarted kit” to “the first computer you build and code yourself” takes a kind of alchemy. What many thought impossible was made real by the Kano team – 22 artists, inventors, engineers, and operators, representing 11 different nationalities. We were misfits with a messianic cause. Now we are here to build you a kit that’s beautiful, functional, and genuinely new.
What you make with it – that’s up to you. Thank you for being a part of this story (and thank you for all of your encouragement.