A pat on the back is in order for David Braben, renowned UK game developer, for his impressive work on the Raspberry Pi PC. Although this is not the first attempt at a low cost, bare bones computer system specifically designed for children of low socio-economic status, it may be the most promising. It is being touted as a $25 computer, which is truly something to write about.
The device is about the size of a USB flash drive, and USB technology actually is responsible for allowing the mini computer to connect to a television or monitor. Coupled with a 16GB SD card, it’s plugged into the port of a monitor, a mouse or keyboard to become a fully functioning Linux PC.
Granted, the specs are not as fantastic as many high end computers, but that really is not the point of the project in the first place. Raspberry Pi is a foundation dedicated to bringing the fun back to programming computers – not just using them. Braben points out that most computer courses within school systems are aimed at teaching children how to use such tools as Office, but do not even dabble in programming or scripting.
The veteran developer believes that through making available computers that are small enough to be carried in their pockets and that they can afford (or which can be funded in mass by an outside source) that students of today can get a small taste of what it is like to work inside the computer system rather than just consuming them from the outside.
Raspberry Pi are targeting children in both developed and developing nations who are in that middle ground where they have the other tools necessary (HDMI compatible television, for instance) to utilize the mechanism, but not necessarily the money to secure a computer as their own. Their goal is to get this USB flash drive PC into the hands of more kids in need.
While this idea has been attempted before, as with One Laptop Per Child, they have not been able to stay the course. The OLPC computers actually rocketed from a somewhat affordable $100 to $188. That is almost double the original cost, and for low-income users that makes a really huge difference. Braben is to be commended for his work, and here’s hoping that the pocket USB computer will be available soon.