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A closeup of the marvelous mini-computer, that's the size of a USB stick -- and almost as cheap as one.  (Source: p Raspberry Pi Foundation)

With a mouse, keyboard, and monitor/HDMI-compatible TV, a child is set to play on the device.  (Source: p Raspberry Pi Foundation)
Forget OLPC, just give kids one of these things

The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project was an ambitious and forward-looking plan.  Unfortunately for all its ambition, it might have been a bit poorly executed.  The initial target cost of $100 ballooned to $188 per laptop.

However, a software great in Britain has devised [video] what could be the salvation of OLPC and similar future programs -- a fully functional computer that's as small as a USB stick and costs only $25 USD (£15) to make.

The tiny computer -- dubbed "Raspberry Pi" -- looks somewhat like a standard USB memory stick, as a USB 2.0 connector juts out of it.  But on the side it packs a SD/MMC/SDIO card reader to provide Flash storage (of course buying said storage might bump the price $10-$20).  And on the side opposite to the USB port an HDMI connector sits, capable of piping out 1080p video to a monitor/TV.

The little board has smartphone-esque hardware, with a 700MHz ARM11 processor and 128 MB of SDRAM packed in.  Specifics on the processor, including the manufacturer were not yet revealed.  The GPU also was not revealed, but it is said to be capable of handling OpenGL ES 2.0 (hence the 1080p output).

Mice/keyboards can be plugged in via the USB slot.  The computer runs a version of popular open-source Linux distribution Ubuntu 9 and comes with a variety of open source software tools (Iceweasel, KOffice, Python).

An expansion port allows for additional hardware models.  For example, a 12 MP camera module was shown off.

A full spec sheet and overview is available here.

The inventor David Braben is the founder of development studio Frontier Developments and co-developer of the game Elite.  His game studio has offered such hot-selling titles as the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, ThrillvilleLost Winds, and most recently Kinectimals.

Lately Mr. Braben has been driven to try to inspire the next generation to success in the field of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).  He is looking to deploy the mini-computer as a device packed with courses for children that teach them about the basics of computer hardware and programming software.

He has launched a UK registered charity dubbed the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

He states that children will be able to "use [the device] as a computer to learn program, to be able to run Twitter, Facebook, whatever.  But also to be able to understand the whole process of programming.  A lot of things have been obfuscated these days in the sense that you can't get at them.  There's so much between you and doing something interesting or creative that it gets in the way.  And hopefully this device will be one of the pieces that helps change that."

The Raspberry Pi foundation plans to distribute the tiny PC to children in the UK, as well as third world children, though no solid release date has been announced yet.

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RE: These initiatives are silly
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 5/6/2011 11:50:49 AM , Rating: 5
* power supply, cables, keyboard, mouse, monitor, memory sold separately.

Lessee, that is gonna be less than... oh, US$500, so there you go, it beat the OLPC cost of US$188 by um... carry the one... wait a minute, what?

RE: These initiatives are silly
By jr9k on 5/6/2011 4:04:21 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, don't forget a couple of monster cables and extended warranty.

RE: These initiatives are silly
By headbox on 5/6/2011 4:14:58 PM , Rating: 2
make sure it has HDMI, or the adapater will cost more too

RE: These initiatives are silly
By cfaalm on 5/12/2011 7:17:24 AM , Rating: 2
What? No Thunderbolt?

RE: These initiatives are silly
By Lerianis on 5/6/11, Rating: -1
RE: These initiatives are silly
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 5/9/2011 7:09:37 AM , Rating: 3
Uh, see the first photo? That piece of circuit board is what costs $25, not all the items pictured in the second photo. Also, read the article.

By Rugglebum666 on 5/13/2011 12:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
Very true.

By icanhascpu on 5/9/2011 10:09:34 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, if youre looking on Newegg for the monitor. /rollseyes.

You look for screen sizes that already have fabs in place to mass-produce screens. You slap a shock-resistant mass produced plastic around that. Tens of dollars for a small cheaply made LCD screen. Keyboard/mouse? Yes, tard, lets buy them a MX518 mouse and wireless keyboard so we can fit with your moronic point. No. This stuff, even on newegg for goodness sake can be had for <15$. If its going directly from fab to system on a mass produced scale those two items would cost a fraction of that. A sub 60-80$ laptop is not difficult to comprehend.

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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