Aunty Beeb's 'FREE' Micro:Bit -- how many on eBay in October?

Wot! No BASIC? How do I plug in the cassette tape? And where's the keyboard? Get off my lawn, pesky kids.

The BBC is proud to reveal the micro:bit -- a tiny, ARM-based board aimed at education. In fact, "because of the unique way the BBC is funded," the venerable broadcaster will be giving away a million or so micro:bits to tweeny schoolkids in the UK. Free, gratis and for nothing.

Every 11- or 12-year-old in the UK's school equivalent of sixth grade will get one. The Brits' TV taxes at work. But how many will end up on eBay? There's the rub.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers look wistfully across the Atlantic, where the TV and radio have no advertising to interrupt the high quality, groundbreaking programming. (But where the weather is a bit variable.)

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.

Mike Magee makes mirth:

The BBC, in conjunction with Microsoft and other[s]...has introduced a device [to] giv[e] children better insight into computing. [It] will be given to a million UK children in October.

The 1.6-inch by two inch device is aimed at 11 and 12 years old . ... The BBC is comparing the Micro Bit to the BBC Micro, launched in 1981.  MORE

Tim "mister" Anderson enters the Matrix:

The micro:bit is part of the BBC’s Make it Digital Initiative and will be supported by online lessons, videos, projects and tutorials.

The board is built around a 32-bit ARM Cortex-M0. ... Bluetooth is on-board, as is a 3-axis accelerometer and a compass. There is a...connector for a 2xAAA battery holder...while 5 chunky I/O rings allow other devices or sensors to be connected with clips or 4mm banana plugs. [It] includes 25 programmable red LEDs for simple displays and two programmable buttons...a micro-USB port...reset button and status LED. ... Software features include an object-oriented model...a non-pre-emptive fibre (thread) scheduler, a message bus, and a simple image manipulation library.

[But it's] limited in capability compared to boards like the Raspberry Pi which support a full graphical display, run a well-known operating system, and for which there is already a wide range of resources.  MORE

So Aunty's Leo Kelion toes the party line:

The BBC describes the...device and an associated Make It Digital campaign as its "most ambitious education initiative" since the release of the BBC Microcomputer System in the 1980s. ... But while the earlier computer was sold for hundreds of pounds, the Micro Bit is being given away to every 11- and 12-year-old child in Year 7 or equivalent.

BBC Learning head Sinead Rocks said:.."As the Micro Bit is able to connect to everything from mobile phones to plant pots and Raspberry Pis, this could be for the internet-of-things what the BBC Micro was to the British gaming industry."

Although supplies will initially be limited to the schoolchildren qualifying for a free Micro Bit...the BBC has confirmed that the computers will go on sale to others...before the end of the year.  MORE

And Andrew Molloy has fond memories of the BBC Model B and its optional Acorn RISC Machine co-processor:

The fact it has an ARM processor shows an actual heritage back to the BBC Micro and so it's a bit more than just "spritual sequel" at least for me, but then I always have a fond soft spot for everything Acorn computers.  MORE

Alasdair Allan also gets misty-eyed:

A lot of us cut our teeth on BASIC programming back in the late 70’s and early 80’s...and spent hours in front of glowing phosphor screens hacking away. ... The BBC Micro was a familiar sight in British schools, and it has left a lasting legacy.

The BBC Micro was also where ARM was born. The company’s processor technology may now be more-or-less ubiquitous in mobile phones and tablets, but the first ARM application was as a second processor for the BBC Micro.

It’s still early days for the Micro:bit and its success or failure will take years to judge. In the same way that it’s really only today, looking back 35 years to the launch of the BBC Micro, we can judge the social impact that it...had with my own generation.  MORE

Meanwhile, Matt Brian's history lesson is more recent:

In 2012, a small team inside the BBC Learning department began work on a new project aimed at tackling the technology skills gap in the UK...with the idea of encouraging children to think about computers and tablets not as things you simply use, but as devices that can be used to create.

The response was enormous. At today's launch, the BBC counted 29 partners, ranging from manufacturers, software makers, retailers and educators. ... With one million units in kids' hands, the possibilities are infinite.

The technology will be licenced so companies all over the world can make their own Micro:bits. ... The BBC has formed a non-profit company to do so, which will also open-source the board.  MORE

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don't have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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