Raspberry Pi lets kids discover programming on a TV

Raspberry Pi is an ARM-based USB stick-style PCB that can turn a TV into a computer, writes Steve Bush.

Announced by UK games developer David Braben, the device can run Linux and is intended to be a low-cost (£15) way to introduce children to computer science.

It has an HDMI interface on one end for the TV, and a USB master socket on the other end for a keyboard, plus a mouse via an off-board hub if needed.

A charity, the Raspberry Pi Foundation, has been set up “to promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing”, said the foundation. “We plan to develop, manufacture and distribute an ultra-low-cost computer, for use in teaching computer programming to children. We expect this computer to have many other applications both in the developed and the developing world.”

The provisional specification is a 700MHz ARM11 with 256Mbyte of SDRAM and a SD/MMC/SDIO card slot, plus general-purpose I/O pins.

Hardware support is included for OpenGL ES 2.0 and 1080p30 H.264 decode, plus composite video out alongside the HDMI.

Open source software that can run on the Raspberry includes Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice and Python

The stick computer should appear later this year, possibly as part of a buy-one-give-one program?

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