back to article Why the BBC is stuffing free Micro:bit computers into schoolkids' satchels

The BBC has revealed the full specifications of its Micro:bit pocket computer board, which is designed to lure kids to embedded electronics. The global broadcaster has promised “up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11- or 12-year-old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.” The Micro:bit is part of …

  1. toffer99

    The Beeb come up with good ideas now and then. No wonder Murdoch and Rothermere hate them -its jeallousy.

  2. Missing Semicolon
    Headmaster

    A million?

    Each?

    Wow!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A million?

      Yes, but they do say "up to" so I doubt each one would get more than a few.

  3. Lis 0r
    Boffin

    But does it run RISC OS?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. 404 Silver badge
        Meh

        More proof I'm getting old... remember when the benchmark was Doom?

        harrumph*...

        *wow, spellcheck had 'harrumph'...

    2. Graham Marsden
      Happy

      Does it run BBC Basic?

      1. TitterYeNot
        Coat

        "Does it run BBC Basic?"

        Dear Sir,

        I do hope that if it has to run this 'Basic' thing, that it is proper BBC 'Basic', and also that it can't show pictures on its LED thingamywhatsit.

        I have enough trouble with Tarquin and Josanda as it is, and I'm absolutely sure that peeking and poking is really not going to help matters, at least that's what our local Chief Constable said.

        Yours etc.,

        Miranda Cumworthington-Handly

      2. Richey

        BBC Beginners All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code

        C++ for Year 7 children and their teachers? BBC BASIC would have been far more suitable. It is still widely used you know...

    3. HywelPhillips

      I was delighted to discover that the Raspberry Pi does. I'll be getting one just for old times' sake! I wrote my PhD Thesis on an Archimedes...

      1. Efros

        I wrote my masters on a CPC6128 on WordStar, not something I wish to repeat. The PhD well that was done on IBM AT compatible using LaTeX, again not something I wish to repeat.

        1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

          I wrote my master's using Wordstar on an early PC and was quite happy with it. It's my experiences a few years later using Word that I don't wish to repeat. (Best part of a minute just to start the program, getting random reverts because I had foolishly turned on quick save, etc.)

          1. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

            Microsoft Word

            The early DOS version of Word was... an education. It made me the man I am today - grey-haired, balding and easily startled.

      2. Dr Patrick J R Harkin
        Coat

        " I wrote my PhD Thesis on an Archimedes..."

        Did you have the external drive enclosures, or did you have very small handwriting?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Coat

          Re: " I wrote my PhD Thesis on an Archimedes..."

          mine was hand-written using a fountain pen and then typed up - personal computers a mere dream

  4. Little Mouse

    Year 7 = 11 years old

    11 years old is well past the "swallowing batteries" stage of development.

    As for the device - Without any output to speak of, I'm struggling to see how kids will use it in any engaging way, except perhaps in semi-autonomous vehicle / robot style projects. (Disclaimer - I have no imagination. I'm sure my spawn will come up with all sorts of neat ideas.)

    Still, it's no bad thing, and as a child of Sinclair Computers, I heartily approve. I just think it's going to be eclipsed by the sexier Pi.

    1. Paul Bullough

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      It has a 5x5 LED display. That's an ideal form of output. Anything more sophisticated and they'll play Minecraft on it instead of doing their ICT homework.

      1. richardcox13

        Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

        > It has a 5x5 LED display. That's an ideal form of output. Anything more sophisticated and they'll play Minecraft on it instead of doing their ICT homework.

        Minecraft could easily /be/ their ICT homework: http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/ComputerCraftEdu

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      11 years old is well past the "swallowing batteries" stage of development.

      But the Siblings might not be. This is the correct BBC quote omitted from the article:

      "The initial prototype utilised a smaller battery, however in reviewing the design and examining the health and safety implications of using small batteries for a young audience, where siblings may be able to access the device, the partnership took the decision to re-engineer this element."

      But a CR2032 isn't going to last 5 minutes anyway, hence replacing it with a double AAA pack is a good thing.

      1. Anonymous Blowhard

        Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

        And the problem is that a device with an exposed battery (as proposed) would almost inevitably lead to accidental ingestion which combined with the speed at which these create internal damage would almost certainly lead to severe injury if not death.

        I wasn't aware of how dangerous these things are once ingested:

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-29610570

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

          Although its a bit of a shame, as one of the early ideas mooted for the prototype was as a wearable (basically a programmable badge or pin depending on which side of the pond you are). Having a couple of AAA's hanging off it would I guess rather spoil that.

          My eldest is going up to year 7 in September, so will be interesting to see what she and her class (and their teacher) make of it, or if it ends up coming home and joining the Pi in extra-curricular education of coding and suchlike.

          1. Graham Marsden

            Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

            > one of the early ideas mooted for the prototype was as a wearable

            I don't think it will be long before someone comes up with a case that will allow you to substitute the 2xAAA batteries for a button cell and sell it as a Mod.

            1. werdsmith Silver badge

              Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

              one of the early ideas mooted for the prototype was as a wearable

              Oh you can still get the early idea that was mooted. It's being funded by Kickstarter and it's called "CodeBug".

          2. Charles Manning

            Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

            "basically a programmable badge"

            Something like an AVR butterfly: http://www.element14.com/community/docs/DOC-40597/l/avr-butterfly-evaluation-kit.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      The Pi is basically a cut-down desktop computer, so doesn't seem to have much value for anyone who already has a one. You can run Scratch or a Linux desktop on either, just that the Pi will be slower.

      This is more of a bottom-up hardware device. You'll get the best value out of it if people are writing in assembler. (How easy is ARM assembler to learn, compared to say a 6502, 6800 or 6809?). Working out how to make LEDs flash from a small set of simple instructions aids both problem-solving and understanding how computers really work inside.

      Takes me back to this:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newbear_77-68

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

        > The Pi is basically a cut-down desktop computer, so doesn't seem to have much value for anyone who already has a one.

        No. It is a grown up IoT. It has a GPIO with digital and analogue IO so can be used with sensors and motors for all sorts of projects that are impossible for desktops. It can _also_ provide a full desktop facility so that development can be done onboard with direct access to the GPIO making it very suitable for prototyping.

        > This is more of a bottom-up hardware device.

        This does require a desktop to develop on, or a Pi.

        > You'll get the best value out of it if people are writing in assembler.

        Nonsense. Access to the IO is not an issue - libraries do that. Speed is not an issue for IoT or wearables.

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

          The very existence of "but can it run crysis?" comments underlines the major problem desktop-like "computers" have trying to involve kids in computing: undeniably, a major draw of the early micros was that with very little knowledge one could feel the satisfaction of almost-touching the "state of the art"; after all, writing a "space invaders" or "pacman" clone was entirely within the reach of a motivated beginner. Conversely, it's rather obvious that no amount of Pi-fondling will result in one suddenly creating another Minecraft or Crysis. That bar isn't simply high - it has left the solar system. This gizmo doesn't have that burden of comparison to carry; managing to scroll a text across the LED display is basically satisfaction guaranteed...

          1. Diogenes Silver badge

            Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

            I wish I could upvote more than 1 vote.

            I currently teach an app dev class to year 9 & 10. Most of the kids want to build a FPS or GTA clone, and are uninterested in doing simpler games like frogger or space invaders, or worse a vanilla "master detail" or calculator to get their feet wet.

            In general atrocious attention to detail and attention spans - "sorry Jhaaydyn varible is not the same as variable", "yes Kyhilie you do need a semi colon on the end of every line", "freddie why are assigning every thing to the one variable?" , "Wendy you missed this whole subroutine here", they get frustrated - nothing firetrucking (acceptable classroom substitute for the other word that starts with f and ends in uck) works stupid firetrucking POS !!!!! mean trying something that doesn't involve a lot of typing. Therefore I have tried appInventor & gamesalad and other tools but because various ports are blocked and we are behind a proxy we don't control , none of the simulators or indeed tools (I'm looking right at you Unreal Engine & appInventor helper) work

            1. Gannettt

              Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

              "sorry Jhaaydyn varible is not the same as variable", "yes Kyhilie you do need a semi colon on the end of every line", "freddie why are assigning every thing to the one variable?" , "Wendy you missed this whole subroutine here",

              I can see an updated version of the classic Joyce Grenfel routine here!

    4. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      Quote

      "11 years old is well past the "swallowing batteries" stage of development."

      You have'nt met some of the 16-18 yr olds we've put up with when they've been booted out of school.

    5. Charles Manning

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      These tight pitch connectors are bad too.

      I have taught this age group with a home grows robot from the ground up. The kids soldered up the whole circuit including the H-bridge motor controller built out of transistors.

      The kids took a while to get good enough to solder 0.1 inch pitch components. Surface mount teenie tinies are too small.

      At this age group, if you want engagement then they need to be able to touch it and fiddle with it tangibly - not just with abstract software. This board is too damn small. If it had been built out of 0.1 inch through hole it would be a lot better.

    6. Franklin

      Re: Year 7 = 11 years old

      11 years old was when I got my first computer, a Radio Shack TRS-80 Model I (that ought to date me!). It didn't take long before I was tearing it apart and soldering new ICs to it--back in those days, if oyu got a computer, as often as not the schematics and PCB layout came with it.

      I reckon at least some 11-year-olds will have an absolute blast with this. I know I would have. Hell, I probably still could! Where can I get one?

      1. Wommit
        Thumb Up

        Re: Year 7 = 11 years old : Re Where can I get one?

        Ebay, in about 4 to 5 months time.

  5. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Obligatory and somewhat tedious....

    ...can it run Crysis comment.

  6. ZSn

    Buy?

    a quick peruse of the interwebs doesn't show how to get one if you're an old codger. It might be worth while connecting to a raspberry pi if it's a few quid, however how to buy one and how much it will be is anyone's guess. I'm sure that lots of kids will toss it into the corner once they get it, so it may pop up on a well known tat-selling site shortly afterwards.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Buy?

      Although supplies will initially be limited to the schoolchildren qualifying for a free Micro Bit in late October, the BBC has confirmed that the computers will go on sale to others in the UK and overseas before the end of the year.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Buy?

        "the computers will go on sale to others in the UK"

        So once you have paid for it the first time via your TV tax, you can pay for it again.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Buy?

          So once you have paid for it the first time via your TV tax, you can pay for it again.

          Twitter has people screaming about the license fee money.

          The partners, ARM, Element 14 and some others are funding the manufacturing.

          So don't panic about Public Service Broadcast funding.

          One hysterical on twitter is even complaining that the BBC are giving away devices that can be used as switches to trigger bombs.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Buy?

            "One hysterical on twitter is even complaining that the BBC are giving away devices that can be used as switches to trigger bombs."

            So? That's true, they "could" be used for that. And there could be interstellar slime heading our way on a comet too!

    2. Phuq Witt
      Thumb Up

      Re: Buy?

      "...it may pop up on a well known tat-selling site shortly afterwards..."

      I was just thinking the same myself.

      I wouldn't mind a few of these to tinker with but, having no ankle-biters of my own, am relying on them becoming widely and cheaply available on said tat bazaar –once the feckless 'yoof' of today find that [shock! horror!] you actually have to put in some work to make them 'do anything' and promptly lose interest.

    3. Old Used Programmer

      Re: Buy?

      Notice that one of the companies backing it is Element 14...the retail arm of Premier Farnell, one of the two licensed manufacturers of the Raspberry Pi.

      This device strike me more as an up-to-date Arduino, in some respects, than anything else.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Buy?

      I guess the aim is to recreate the BBC Micro effect - a generation of IT professionals for whom it was their introduction to computing. The RasPi had a similar aim - has that worked? The problem I see is kick-starting the kids, building the enthusiasm. Perhaps a linked TV programme - or perhaps more relevant now, a fully fledged dedicated web site with videos, walk-through tutorials, forums etc. But the real need is for charismatic enthusiastic leadership and that calls for adult technology enthusiasts understanding how to make the device do some party tricks and being able to show how - but we can't buy 'till after they're in the kid's hands...

      As with the BBC Micro, once kick-started the smarter kids get creative in ways never envisaged - and don't forget the add-ons market, nor the potential for using the things as inexpensive process control and IoT components perhaps helping make IoT a real thing rather than a load of overpriced gimmicks like £50 lightbulbs .

  7. Richard_L
    WTF?

    “Give kids some tools and let them solder, bake, code, connect and sew to make dough circuits, wearable electronics, flower pot robots and games consoles,” says Technology will Save Us on its site.

    How do you sew a dough circuit? What's that all about?

    1. Synonymous Howard

      Electric Play Dough per chance?

      http://www.science-sparks.com/2015/02/12/easy-play-dough-circuits/

      1. g e

        "Play-Doh", apparently

        I thought that what you did when impersonating Homer Simpson...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I understand the "ease of use" case for an online compiler but will they also do an offline one? or is that so they can monitor the children's intelligence or aptitude for computers and programming?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "is that so they can monitor the children's intelligence or aptitude for computers and programming?"

      That and it allows the sponsors (i.e. MS et al) to datamine the children and get them thinking that zero-privacy and unfaltering allegiance to the Redmond-way are perfectly normal.

      The BBC should have demanded that all code be licensed AGPL and hosted on a public service. Then the kids could learn about suer freedom too. MS can still run the servers if they want.

      Never happen though as MS are massively anti-freedom. Seems the BBC is too.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Dodgy Dave

      Yes, AIUI it's based on the mbed.org toolchain (the hardware appears to be the nRF51822 development kit with some LEDs on the I/Os). With this you can create a skeleton project using the online IDE, export it as a gcc project (complete with libraries, makefiles, etc), then happily hack away offline.

      1. /dev/null

        nRF51822

        According to the Nordic website, this device has either 16 or 32k of RAM on-board, so it resembles a BBC Micro quite closely in that respect...

    3. mfraz

      My concern about having to use an online server to program it is that any part of the chain could go down and leave you unable to do any programming.

  9. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    A tiny programmable controller?

    Looks simple enough to be a cheap controller board ...

  10. Blitheringeejit
    Happy

    Essential introduction to computing

    Interesting to note that in designating the i/o ports, the designers have decided to be up-front about the confusing-to-civilians fact that the computers start counting at 0, not at 1. Even if that's all that the yoot learn from using this device at school, it could save millions in bug-fixing and patching over the next 50 years or so.

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: Essential introduction to computing

      [stares disapprovingly at DIM statement]

      Now go back to your room and think about what you've done.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Too young?

    In my experience very few kids will take an interest in this sort of kit. Over the years my friends' and neighbours' kids have always been impressed by my Halloween and Xmas SFX - but have shown no interest in how it is done or how they could devise something similar.

    Thinking back to the projects in the school hobby club in the 1960s - the age group who might get interested are Years 8 onwards. However they need somewhere to gain knowledge and guidance - like the Amateur Radio Club I joined at 14.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Too young?

      I think you might be right about their usefulness to the target age group.

      I have been thinking about how young people are spending their time these days. With almost 100% of them addicted to Social Media of one form of another what time will they have to be created, have original ideas? It is all follow me, look how cool I am (or be bullied), me ,me, me, me.

      Where are the likes of the next mega entrepenurs going to come from?

      If this project can inspire at least one kid to put down Facetwat and be creative then it will be a success.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: Too young?

        An application that attaches to your facebook (or whatever the fashion is now) and puts messages on the LEDs ?

  12. Flywheel Silver badge

    Free?

    ..as in "part of your licence fee mate".

    As a BBC Licence Fee payer I'd like a set please.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Free?

      Not only that, but your license fee is not being used to promote MS to kids.

      That's like your council tax being used to pay drug dealers to run the school kitchen.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Free?

        "your license fee is not being used to promote MS to kids."

        I thought the problem is that it is being used to promote MS.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Free?

          "I thought the problem is that it is being used to promote MS."

          Yes. Unfortunately I had a typo and can't edit.

    2. Roger B

      Re: Free?

      Did they send you your BBC Micro back in 1985 as well?

  13. magickmark
    Trollface

    Milllllleeeelins !!!!

    "The BBC has announced the final specifications of the micro:bit pocket computer board, of which “up to 1 million devices will be given to every 11 or 12 year old child in year 7 or equivalent across the UK, for free.”"

    Every 11 or 12 to be given up to 1 million of these! Each? Wow I know Aunties like to give presents but even so, where is each kid expected to keep them????

    1. Whit.I.Are

      Re: Milllllleeeelins !!!!

      It's 'up to 1 million', so in practice they'll get one each.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is the BBC doing this?

    Why on Earth is the BBC promoting this MS trojan-horse? What the world needs is less dependence on their crap, not an entire generation who can't think outside the Redmond box.

    1. arnieL

      Re: Why is the BBC doing this?

      I'm sure you'd be prepared to reach into your pocket and make up the short fall? Anonymously, of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is the BBC doing this?

      You sir, are a tit!

  15. Paul Hayes 1

    I do wonder if kids will really show any interest in this.

    I am of the BBC Micro/Sinclair Spectrum generation and my ZX Spectrums got me started programming. But 90% of the time I was playing games on them. If the only thing they could do was allow me to program myself then I dare say it'd have been consigned to the back of a cupboard.

    This device looks quite cool and I like the idea of an online development chain to get going easily & quickly. I just fear that kids will soon get bored of making LEDs blink in different patterns.

    1. Proud Father

      Same here. Bit of a geek back in school.

      I had embedded 6052 assembler in my BBC basic programs.

      The Spectrum I played with Z80 assembler (precursor to the 8088 if I remember correctly -- EDIT: Google says NO. It was a long time ago ok?)

      When I was in college I had a temporary job at a local company writing assembler routines in 8088 for a Basic interpreter. I did the peek/poke routines and some cursor processing stuff. Can't remember the rest. I still laugh when I think of 'Far calls' ;)

  16. MrWibble

    For all the naysayers

    An example of a similar project:

    http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Bristol-students-prestigious-award-building-1980s/story-26488331-detail/story.html

    Resulted in one of the kids being nominated for a bafta:

    http://www.cotham.bristol.sch.uk/news/default.asp?storyID=479

    I would suspect that this kid is going on to great things in the IT Industry, and all because of a "coding" project he did at school.

  17. Khaptain Silver badge

    35 Years ago

    >The idea behind the micro:bit is to recover some of the excitement around programming which came 35 years ago with the BBC Micro,

    Nothing else existed 35 years ago which could contend with what we discovered, today they already have smartphones more powerfull than Pcs I first encountered. These devices will represent an interest to maybe 0.00001% percent of the user base.. And that 0.00001% will probably be above high school age....

    >and to steer schools towards teaching children to be creators rather than mere users of computer technology.

    There are far many more ways to be creative than learning programming...

    I wonder what the true objectives are...are they really hoping to insource some of the work that is now done elsewhere on the planet....too late

    1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: 35 Years ago

      >> the excitement around programming which came 35 years ago with the BBC Micro,

      > Nothing else existed 35 years ago which could contend with what we discovered,

      Nonsense. There were many small computers and a whole load of magazines and computing clubs in the late 70s and early 80s. The computers included the ZX80 (1980), ZX81 and Acorn's own Atom (1980) on which the BBC was based. There was also CP/M based machines (since 1975) and Apple II (1978). Some of these were available as kits (Atom, Apple I, ZX80) to both reduce the price and make them a learning experience.

      Many of these machine also had 'user ports' which could be used for interfacing to sensors and motors.

      > There are far many more ways to be creative than learning programming...

      Back in the 80s schools were using BBCs and others as tools to learn science, ecology, maths and much else by utilising the interfacing capabilities. Later Microsoft convinced schools that computers should only be used to teach 'office skills' as consumers of Microsoft products.

      The Pi and Arduino has changed that now. This is another step.

      1. Khaptain Silver badge

        Re: 35 Years ago

        >Nothing else existed 35 years ago which could contend with what we discovered,

        Richard I may hae expressd myself badly, when I said that the there was "nothing which could contend with what we discovered, " it was relating to the fact that kids these days already have Smartphones are used to having electronic devices, which I see as removing the "discovery" part from the equation.

        When I was a kid the most amazing thing that I had ever seen up until the 1st computers was electronic calculator... So it was absolutely amazing to discover computers... I do not believe that kids today can have that same feeling because they have always grown up around a lot of electronics...

        Another example would be the internet, kids today don't really discover the web, it has always been around as far as they are concerned.. Whereas in my case it was amazing to see the 1st screen full of the "internet".....

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The Pi will eat it for breakfast.

    However if its relatively easy to mount this on to the pi then I can see the pair of them being a lot of fun. Cheapest way of adding bluetooth, accelerometry and compass to the pi I've seen.

    Could use that word synergy here...

    1. Simon Ward
      Thumb Up

      Re: The Pi will eat it for breakfast.

      I don't have the BBC article to hand, but I'm fairly certain that the stated aim is to complement the likes of *duinos and the Pi - whilst it might be a creditable alternative to the Atmega-based Arduino boards (although there are now ARM-based boards like the Due available) comparing to the Pi is like comparing raspberries with, well, something that isn't a raspberry.

      I must admit, when this was first announced a while ago I was distinctly underwhelmed by it but having seen this final spec I'm thinking that there are a fair few uses I could put these to, both in conjunction with a 'larger' system (eg. Pi, Arduino etc.) and in isolation.

      Whether or not the intended audience takes to it remains to be seen.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: The Pi will eat it for breakfast.

        The Pi thing is happening sporadically in little islands but I can't find many kids that are interested in them and no school around here is doing anything with Pis.

        And there is an arrogance building around the Raapberry Pi world. Which is a real shame because it has properly accelerated the maker movement. Just not in schools.

        Fingers crossed for the new attempt.

      2. RogerClark

        Re: The Pi will eat it for breakfast.

        There is also now an Arduino Zero, which is ARM Cortex M0 like this device, but its far more expensive.

        Looking at the spec's hidden away on a wiki it looks like this board is not going to be that cheap to produce, unless they have secured some amazing deal from Nordic semi who make the microcontroller with built in Bluetooth. (NRF51822)

        If you look on eBay so that device, the cheapest board is around £4.50, and that's without the LEDs and buttons and the accelerometer.

        I guess in quantities of 1M Nordic will have done a deal, but they still won't be that cheap

        The Arduino platform is now actually a lot more open than just the Arduino Branded boards.

        There is community support for ESP8266 Wifi devices, using the Arduino IDE and API, which you can get for 99p, ie full on Wifi IoT.

        Then there are other ARM based micro controllers like the 72Mhz Cortex M3 STM32F103 Maple mini board £3.15

        Or the commercially supported Teensy board by PJRC (around £10 + a lot of postage from the USA)

        So the Beeb would have been spoilt for choice, even within the Arduino IDE and API

  19. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Any bets whether supplies will fall short of promises?

    The release of the original BBC micro springs to mind, the things were in short supply for many schools, never mind to the paying public as I recall it was meant to be released prior to a planned education drive. (I might be wrong, I was only a 'wee nipper' at the time).

    Or am I thinking of the 'Doomsday Book' thing?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Any bets whether supplies will fall short of promises?

      The BBC A was £299, the B was £399. So, to be equivalent today this thing would need to cost over a grand. Nearer £1500 for the B.

      It's no wonder we were never allowed anywhere near the precious things.

      1. Simon Ward
        Happy

        Re: Any bets whether supplies will fall short of promises?

        At my comprehensive school were fortunate(?) enough to have 4 or 5 Model Bs, along with the usual RM380Zs and their ilk - surprising, given that we were consider the 'rough' school in town, and if you weren't doing O-level computer studies then your chances of getting anywhere near one were close to nil.

        That said, given the way that the Beebs were typically used, at least by the lads in my class (myself included), it's a wonder that we didn't get O-levels in 'Playing Elite' rather than computer studies.

        (most of my early coding was done on a Commodore 64)

  20. a_mu

    October ?

    sounds like its too late for this year to me.

    Out in October,

    The schools are already planning / planed what computing they are offering next year.

    I would hope the teachers were familiar with the thing before teaching it,

    Say a week of practice before they can teach with it.

    and the material, another week or two to plan it into the curriculum,

    I dont know about your teachers, but at the start of the year ours are quite busy,with the new class.

    they can't take a week or so out to learn a completely new product.

    The BBC should have the teaching material with the teachers now,along with a unit to try out

    Remember the BBC micro, all those great TV programs,

    I seem to remember the programs came out before the schools had micros

    it late..

  21. Axe
    Thumb Up

    I like it,

    When I was 10 i was coding my ZX81 followed by my CPC464

    they were both limited,

    but people with much better understanding and imagination then me were creating games and business apps that it took me years to compete with (the business stuff anyway, never been any good at creating games)

    If this is a stepping stone for a few kids to become interested in coding rather than playing then that can only be a good thing.

    Axe.

  22. BobRocket

    Excellent - I'll take a dozen

    The kids can build them into bird boxes to measure bird traffic and a weather station inside one of those garden windmills with the woodcutter (except he will be turning a generator), for Xmas they can make some advent calenders.

    (cheers for the links to non/conductive dough, it had never occured to me - a project for this weekend with the 3 year old)

  23. RogerClark

    Physically fit for purpose ?

    I have a few concerns about the physical design of the device.

    As I think someone else mentioned, the large exposed 3V and GND pads at the bottom will be prone to being shorted, especially as they give the kids croc clips.

    If the device happens to be plugged into the PC at the time, you can say goodbye to the 3.3V reg or the reverse protection diode (if there is one).

    I'm not sure what the tiny pads between the large pads do, they seem to imply that they are signal lines e.g. other GPIO.

    But the croc clips will invariably short those lines next to the 3V and GND pads to either 3V or GND and I suspect its all too easy to short 3V and GND together either by accident or on purpose.

    Also, they are using a micro USB connector, which appears to only be attached via solder pads

    These types of connectors are quite flimsy, as they can't take a much stress via the USB cable and its very easy to snap them off the board. Which is probably why if you look at an Arduino, its got a massive USB connector which is soldered through the board.

    I think they'd have been better off building an Arduino shield with other hardware e.g. LED's buttons, BLE and accelerometer etc

    I wonder how much the cost of production is. The cheapest micro controller boards I can get at the moment are the Arduino mini's at about $2 and they only have the processor + crystal etc.

    So these things are going to be costing several pounds to manufacture, and they are giving a million of them away ?? (we can all do the maths)

  24. Wolfclaw

    BEEB Not Broadcasting

    Although the idea of giving away millions of these little things is commendable, the BBC extorts money from the licence fee payer to provide broadcastable material either on TV or or online. They are not hardware manufacturer/suppliers/developers and this should have been done by other means. Just another example of the BEEB hemorrhaging money of projects that they have no reason to get involved with !

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: BEEB Not Broadcasting

      No they are not hardware developers. They are partnered with ARM and others for that.

      They are not manufacturers/suppliers either, that's why Element14 are involved.

      There are other partners too.

      BBC are supplying the name, communication and media vehicle. I doubt they are haemorrhaging much cash, certainly not from license fees.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. James Hughes 1

    Alternative but similar device

    https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/922345933/codebug

    Waiting for mine at the moment

  27. Missing Semicolon
    WTF?

    Why did they just not re-use the Arduino platform?

    That has a community and a toochain behind it. If you insist on making it IoT friendly, use one of the various networking shields available, or create a "BBC" Shield with the required hardware and connectors on it.

    A local High school uses Arduinos for basic robotics - stuff made out of bits of plywood, servos, stepmotors and bent wire. I saw things like cranes and mousetraps - all mechanically dodgy, but made to work by the kids.

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