Raspberry Pi Foundation producing educational computers

Written by Sally O'Connell

Raspberry Pi Foundation is boosting technology for charities with the development of a cheap computer aimed at making it easier for children to get better knowledge of the digital age.

The UK charity has announced production of the PCs is now underway, with the first batch being produced in China.

Eben Upton, who founded the project, explained the decision to move the work overseas will enable the organisation to make considerable monetary savings - cash that could then be used to reinvest in the group's developmental and research pursuits.

The industry figure noted it would have proven far too costly to have had the devices - which are about the size of a credit card and can be connected to a television screen and keyboard - made in the UK, while the timescale might have also posed a problem.

He went on to point out the workplace conditions in China would be suitable for a project of this type, while having the finished product delivered would prove a lot more cost effective from a tax perspective than importing all the necessary components before being assembled together.

"So we have had to make the pragmatic decision and look to Taiwan and China for our manufacturing, at least for this first batch. We are still working hard on investigating UK possibilities," Mr Upton added.

An idea for developing such a tiny device to bolster technology for charities came to Mr Upton around five years ago.

The expert was working as a computer science lecturer and it was brought to his attention that the young people he was teaching did not have the level of experience required regarding programming - thanks mainly to home PCs becoming more sophisticated.

As a result, he devised the diminutive computers, which can be bought for as little as £16 and £22 and come complete with the ability to connect to the internet.

It is hoped that the low cost will mean the handheld gadgets are affordable to all youngsters and will provide them with the tools necessary to help them gain a much better understanding of programming and related subjects.

Writing on the charity's website, Mr Upton stated: "Raspberry Pis started being made a couple of days ago, but I was forbidden to tell you about it until signed contracts and receipts for payment had arrived – it's been killing me, especially since I've had tens of you asking me when manufacturing would start every day for the last few weeks. I am not good at keeping secrets."

The first batch of the new devices are likely to be rolling off the production line at the end of January - but only the Model B varieties will be available at this stage, with the Model A types being introduced into the public arena at a later date.

Raspberry Pi noted it does not expect to solve all of the world's computing problems but added: "We want to break the paradigm where without spending hundreds of pounds on a PC, families can't use the internet. We want owning a truly personal computer to be normal for children. We think that 2012 is going to be a very exciting year."
 

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