The latest in the quickly growing market of low cost, easily reproduced computer devices is the Raspberry Pi. Competing against the OLPC, one of the most famous devices in the group, the Raspberry Pi takes a slightly different approach to the creation of easily computing devices that are easy to reproduce. While the OLPC had a reasonably high price point and an impressive screen, the Raspberry Pi is a tiny device- and pretty much as barebones as it could possibly be.
The plan is to sell the device for $25- it consists of a 700MHz ARM11 processor, 128 MB of RAM with video ports, a removable media slot and a USB 2.0 slot. The computer is about the size of a normal USB stick. All you need to make the computer work is some external storage, which is very cheaply available, a USB hub with a keyboard and mouse and any monitor that connects to component or HDMI out. As long as the software is compatible with ARM processors, it’ll run it- and those specs for $25 aren’t really to be sniffed at, compared with PCs about 5-10 years ago.
It currently runs Ubuntu 9, but there’s lots of options. The idea of getting one of these for every child is remarkable, to say the least, but this mass-production device seems to be a great way of getting the groundwork done, meaning that all that needs to be supplied are the additional components. If this catches on, it could provide the third world with an exceptional level of computer literacy- something that is sorely missing at the moment.