rasppi_alpha_01Geek.com reports on a talk given by Eben Upton (video embedded below), director of the Raspberry Pi foundation that is producing a $25 PC for use in education (but that also runs Quake 3 pretty well) that will be released later this year. Upton goes into detail on the rationale behind the PC, including some interesting information on the thought process that went into developing it.

For example, the $25 price point came about because that’s about what textbooks cost, and Upton wanted buying it to be a comparable decision for parents to buying a kid’s textbook.

As to why a $25 PC is needed, it simply comes down to the need to develop programming skills while still young, a skill that seems to have disappeared in recent years. Eben explains this as due to the typical hacking and experiment platforms such as the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX81 all disappearing and being replaced with the closed game consoles. Even the PC has become closed as families typically share it and kids aren’t encouraged to experiment for fear of breaking it.

There will also be a $35 version with more RAM and a network port, which the foundation expects to be much more popular than the $25 version. Interestingly, the computer will work not only with HDMI or DVI monitors, but also with old analog TVs like the PCs of the 1980s. That will certainly reduce the effective cost of ownership, as well as provide a new use for all the old TVs that people are replacing with high-def digital versions.

Will this computer “produce the next generation of computer geeks”? Hard to say. But apart from the uses in education, it could very well bring meaningful computing access to a low-income segment of the population in a way that the OLPC has not yet ever managed.


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