David Braben designs $25 computer

Elite developer's Raspberry Pi USB key PC to give school-age children their first taste of programming on the cheap.

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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.

The Raspberry Pi is barely bigger than pocket change, and not too much more expensive.

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.

Discussion

41 comments
Je3vez
Je3vez

awesome, I hope my school will get them for the IT departement. we start doing some game developement next year :)

Hvac0120
Hvac0120

Yeah... because people looking for a $25 computer are going to have displays with HDMI...

CISX
CISX

COOL, IS LIKE A PENTIUM 3!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

zhuge_liang_
zhuge_liang_

Unfortunately, in a few years, when this product becomes successful enough and threatens the big companies, I'm sure they'll find a way to silence this innovation.

nintendo-naut
nintendo-naut

Hey--you could still run the classics. Kids in Nicaragua can study computers and play Doom. 8)

Mkherkzen
Mkherkzen

@JGoWild It's not only Third-world children that need this - there are still lots of technology illiterate people in developed countries who could benefit from this.

hasancakir
hasancakir

Techically our smart phones are made of small computer hardware as well. But the difference here is the price and it looks very successful to me.

JGoWild
JGoWild

He should partner with some non profit to bring this marvelous achievement to third world children. In my opinion, they are in desperate need of this. Finally, David Braben, I salute you.

smellyfeet
smellyfeet

Heh, no surprises there from the maker of Elite, the great grandaddy of space games -- an entire universe in less than 100kb :)

aaron263
aaron263

Game Spot UK, they compare it with a 20p Coin (from UK), So why do they state the price of the computer as $25!! For people in the UK the price in £ is £15.

SKiLL_SS
SKiLL_SS

That little black cooling thing... 'What's in the box', anyone ?...

Dancingdave
Dancingdave

Wish I knew how to get a hold of them, I am unemployed and have childcare experience and a degree in computer programming... I would teach kids to code with it. I was writing a letter to my local authority the other day to suggest they run a computer science basics course for kids and offering to run it lol

gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

Unbelievable, in the truest sense of the word.

mbranco_00
mbranco_00

Cool! I like the idea but I hope they change the name. With a like luck maybe this will be used as training aid for US school children as well. The cost is very low and the unit is very potable maybe this will help children of lower privileged families become more accustom to the technological needs in our work force.

demollyon
demollyon

OMG technology is getting more and more advanced!

Giga_Surfer
Giga_Surfer

@Ladiesman17 Yeah the future seams to be going that way, proof of that are the tablets, and the ARM technology, and the "Cloud" concept, my only concern, is the Clouds concept, don't like the idea of all my data being storage "in the clouds", I prefer having all physical, to avoy privacy breaches, like what happen to Sony.

Otulissa
Otulissa

Wow, makes me excited to see what the future holds :)

Ladiesman17
Ladiesman17

maybe in the near future PC is more like USB devices just plugged in through every HDTV monitor and connected through Steam-based interface... cheap PC, cheap Games for everyone... then EA and Activision can suck each others foot... yeah... It's just in my dream =/

warbrady
warbrady

im only intrested in tec that hovers ,( nearly there )

wiidominance
wiidominance

I like how the black cube looks like it's got all the secrets of the universe.

jecht_35
jecht_35

I would buy it the future of technology sure is coming fast

Pat_Dude
Pat_Dude

Dayum, 700mHz. Hope this thing comes with a USB expansion thingy. If we want internet, keyboard, mouse, etc support we'll need more USB. But this is still incredible. Shows how small we can make these.

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

ahuh... so can i play portal 2 on this or what? :) Impressive miniaturisation right there.

Quadster
Quadster

i'm amazed at how small that much power has been packed into, Thats some good stuff right there, it's more powerful than my 1st college computer back in 1999 (AMD K6-III 400Mhz) and looks like it takes up the space of a GBA SP. Progress, and i like it :)

penpusher
penpusher

@Jaga_Telesin why? its not designed to be the do all and end all of cheap computing its main purpose is just to have a cheap and easy to run BASIC pc that will get children into the basics of programming

mystic_knight
mystic_knight moderator

far out are they serious.. this is amazing

braqoon
braqoon

Wow, you can do a lot with 700mhz, but 128MB ram for Ubuntu ? with fluxbox maybe.

Draggunof
Draggunof

700mhz is the CPU speed a Wii has!

Xammblu
Xammblu

@ Giga_Surfer I did the same exact thing. My old HP PC had a amd 350mhz processor with 128MB of ram. When I turned off all the shadowing and animations and whatnot in XP it ran smooth with no lag for me. I later doubled the ram to 256MN but it ran XP just fine! It still runs Puppy Linux or DSL Linux today for fun.

monson21502
monson21502

better hide this thread from nintendo they are gonna be pissed they took those extra parts they were gonna use to make the second wave of 3ds`s

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

The idea is pretty cool, let's just hope the implementation of it is as well.

selbie
selbie

Braben stop being awesome and make Elite IV :P

kungharry
kungharry

This is pretty amazing =) the screen would cost more than the computer... i can see the possibility of having "laptops" like this for computing while away, not necessarily with internet access (so no online profile like chrome OS). i'm talking about word processing, etc then, to record your observations on a trip or so. in schools and less developed nations it could be a big step, probably even more importantly.

Giga_Surfer
Giga_Surfer

@Jaga_Telesin You are quite mistaken, this has a really huge practical application, specially in schools, or even just to access the internet, also that 128mb of ram, is just enough to run even windows xp, a few years ago, i out of boredom put together a Celeron with 333 mhz and 128mb of ran, and run win98 smoothly, it even run windows xp, a bit laggy but it run, you don't need a powerful machine to access the internet, even my old cellphone does it, so yeah a 25 dollar super small and super cheap PC, is something very impressive, and with allot of potential.

Jaga_Telesin
Jaga_Telesin

Novel idea, but practical applications are too small to take it seriously. Try again in about.. 15-20 years.

num1assassin
num1assassin

nice, i'd like to mess around with one of those

Action
Action

Wow. This is a breakthrough in technology with that size and that cost.