A new pocket-sized, powerful home computer, developed specifically for schools, is about to go into production.
The Raspberry Pi, created by the charitable Raspberry Pi Foundation, has been developed with the aim of enthusing pupils and young people about computer science and design engineering. The simple device uses an ARM chip similar to that found in mobile phones, but has enough memory to be able to run complex 3D video games. The version without a network connector is priced at just £16. The version with an Ethernet port will retail for £22.
The Raspberry Pi is intentionally low cost, and uses a basic circuit of components which can easily be accessed , to show how computers are built and programmed. Memory is provided by an SD card rather than a hard disk, and the device is intended to run the Linux open source operating system, although it will also support other programming languages.
Testing took place in December and commercial production should begin this month. An online auction of the first ten beta circuit boards began on New Year's Day.
The Raspberry Pi is based on an idea by video game veteran David Braben, who was
searching for a way to inspire young people to start a career in technology. He drew on his own early computing experiences, when he created the influential computer game Elite while working on the BBC Micro computer.