British game developer David Braben has unveiled a £15 tiny computer designed to promote the education of computer science called the Raspberry Pi.
About the size of a USB stick, the device is based on a 700MHz ARM11 CPU and connects to a screen via a HDMI output and a keyboard via the USB connector. Braben said that he hopes the device will be able to halt a slide in popularity of computer science at the higher education level.
"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," said the Rasberry PI Foundation.
Braben told TechEye in an interview that ICT teaching had " interest in computing and computer sciences," calling skills in Word and PowerPoint "life skills".
The charity’s approach appears to blend light-weight low-cost enthusiast microcontroller platforms such as the Arduino platform with modern mobile hardware designed to run entire open source operating systems.
It’s not clear how practical a tiny computer might actually be given it still needs to connect to a display device and input peripherals.
However any endeavor which aims to raise the profile of computer science in education is likely to be greeted by groups such as the IEEE and British Computer Society which have both sounded the alarm on rapidly emerging skills shortage.