I’m old. I learned to program as a teenager in the 1980s. Back then, we learned to program on small microcomputers. These machines weren’t very powerful, but they had a neat feature: they were self-hosted. In recent years, a large variety of small microcontrollers have become popular. Many of these have capabilities far in excess of what we had back then, but almost without fail the programming environments they use are hosted on much more powerful machines, often using code which measures tens or hundreds of megabytes.
That has always seemed a bit excessive to me, particularly since making the environments simple and self-hosted pays benefits for educational and hobbyist applications.
The FIGnition board is a project which seems to combat this trend:
FIGnition is an educational DIY computer, based around an Atmel AVR microcontroller. It uses 3 chips and only 46 components to provide a complete self-hosted computer with 8Kb of RAM; 384Kb of storage space; an 8-key keypad and PAL video output. It is interfaced and powered by USB and uses V-USB to provide firmware upgrades by implementing a usbasp device. It runs a variant of FIG-Forth.
Currently it isn’t available in the US since it doesn’t do NTSC video, but I suspect that will change soon. I’ll be looking back at this project periodically.