The BBC's micro:bit mini PC is now on sale to the general public.
Rolled out in March to thousands of 11- and 12-year-old students in the UK, the pocket-sized computers were part of a nationwide initiative to inspire the next generation of developers. Now, thanks to a licensing deal with manufacturer Element 14, they are purchasable by anyone for £12.99 ($18.91).
"A collaboration between 31 partners, the BBC micro:bit is the BBC's most ambitious education initiative in 30 years, with an ambition to inspire digital creativity and develop a new generation of tech pioneers," the distributor's website said.
If you buy through Leeds-based Element 14, however, there is a minimum order quantity of 90 units. Folks can pre-order the Raspberry Pi-like device in three models: micro:bit go (four-pack), club (10-pack), and bulk box (300 loose boards). Each batch comes with a USB cable, battery holder, and two AAA batteries for every micro:bit.
A handful of British retailers—Kitronik, Pimoroni, Sciencescope, Technology Will Save Us, The Pie Hut—are also selling individual or small quantities of the micro:bit.
Powered by ARM mbed hardware, the coding gadgets contain a Nordic MCU with Bluetooth 4.0, allowing kids (and now adults) to connect products and experiment with the Internet of Things.
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It also features the Kinetis microcontroller designed by NXP, which provides USB connectivity and promises simple programming. Each device has a 25-LED matrix display, micro-USB connector, 3-axis accelerometer, and 3-axis magnetometer, as well.
Royalties from the sale of BBC micro:bit merchandise helps promote digital creativity among young people in the United Kingdom.
According to the BBC, the country is in danger of a "significant skills shortage" over the next five years. So the network resurrected an old standard: the BBC Micro, which helped Britain come to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s.