Raspberry Pi computer running Ubuntu 9.04 and the PCB for size comparison
The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a UK registered charity founded by David Braben, seeks to provide children with a low cost computer system. Their "Raspberry Pi Computer" (RPC) is a $25 USD PC on a USB key. There is a USB port on one end and an HDMI port on the other. The simplest configuration is to connect the RPC to a HDMI port on a television, and a USB keyboard/mouse. A more advanced setup places the RPC at the center of a low cost tablet computer.
The concept is to place these into schools, they are cheap enough to give away for free through donations, so every child has the ability to own one. The secondary concept is to show children "could engage is things we are all consumers of, but not creators of." The RPC could then be used to teach programming, script writing, etc. Alternatively, it could be used to just consume too.
The RPC is planned to have an ARM11 running at 700MHz at the core, 256MB SDRAM, USB 2.0, memory card port, camera, and general purpose I/O. The system will be offered, at first, running free open source software like Ubuntu and related packages. An external AC adapter will power the sub 1 watt board.
Just having something like this could inspire a lot of people to tinker, not just children. It seems, the more limited the system, the more used it becomes. Take the 8bit Arduino architecture, people routinely push the limits of the processor creating innovative results. The Raspberry Pi Computer might be the next big crazy. The foundation will be offering the computer sometime in the second half of 2011. For those who just want to use one, a program of "buy one, donate one" will be pushed. Everyone wins here.