Frontier Developments chairman David Braben helped shape the gaming industry with the seminal PC space trading sim Elite, but now he's hoping to shape society at large. The developer has unveiled a prototype of Raspberry Pi, a new computer small enough to be mistaken for a USB thumb drive and economical enough to cost just $25.
The computer will sport a USB port on one end and an HDMI port on the other for hooking up to a TV or other monitor. Plans right now call for the unit to include a 700MHz processor, 128MB of SDRAM, and free open-source software like the Ubuntu operating system and the programming language Python.
Raspberry Pi is expected to be just the first offering from The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK registered charity "which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing." The group is also designing Raspberry Pi with the intention that it could be implemented with a touch screen to create an inexpensive tablet computer, and hopes it will be used in both developed countries and the developing world.
"A lot of things have been obfuscated these days, in the sense that you can't get at them," Braben told the BBC News. "There's so much between you and doing something interesting or creative that gets in the way. Hopefully this will be one of the pieces that helps change that."
Ideally, Braben said the computers could be given away to British schoolchildren to help them engage in the creative side of things they previously knew only as consumers. The group hopes to roll out its first offering within 12 months.