(PhysOrg.com) -- A $25 computer targeted to help young people learn about computers beyond uploading pics and downloading documents is about to start volume-production in January. The Raspberry Pi project, a UK-based foundation, will place the computer by the same name, Raspberry Pi, on general sale. The principle behind the project is that students today may know how to create documents and presentations but far less about fundamental systems architecture and systems development.
Raspberry Pi wants to inspire young people to start technology careers.
User-focused lessons on how to write letters or enter data on Excel spreadsheets may be fine but the devices will place students on a learning and discovery track closer to computer science than end-user skills. The students would receive these credit-card sized computers and courses would be structured around their use.
A posting on the Raspberry Pi blog this week revealed the announcement that the computers are almost ready, seen as good news by many who have been watching for progress updates.
The posting said the first finished circuit boards had arrived and that test versions are to be put through electrical, software and hardware testing. If all goes well, volume production will kick in and orders for the computers will also be taken early next month.
This weeks arrival of the circuit boards is treated as a milestone, as the bare bones circuit boards are the first to be populated with all the components to go into the finished product.
Mice, keyboards, network adapters and external storage connect via USB hub. The computer can be plugged into a TV or monitor and keyboard.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK-registered charity which exists to promote the study of computer science and related topics. As such, it has sought to make the devices as affordable as possible. The Register earlier this year said that the team behind the computer has spent months hunting for components that meet the right balance of cost with quality.
The device uses SD cards for storage and runs on a 700MHz ARM processor. Python provides the main programming language.
The finished product will actually be offered in the form of two models, one for $25 Model A, and one for $35, Model B. The Model B version includes 10/100 wired Ethernet.
"Once we're happy that this test run is fine, we'll be pushing the button immediately on full-scale manufacture in more than one factory, according to the blog. The first batch of 10 boards will be auctioned off to the highest bidder and the devices will go on general sale in January.
The computer can be used for spreadsheets, word-processing games and can play high-definition video. We want to see it being used by kids all over the world to learn programming, according to the Raspberry Pi team.
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More information: www.raspberrypi.org/faqs