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eBay Bids For Low Cost Raspberry PI Hit £2100

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

A tiny computer that will be sold for just £20 later this month, is currently fetching bids worth thousands on the giant auction website eBay

Pre-production versions of the low cost educational computer, the Raspberry PI, are attracting bids worth thousands of pounds on eBay.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the tiny computer that is being developed by the UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation, has attracted bids worth up to a staggering £2,100.

Not bad considering that the computer is expected to be sold for just £15 when it goes into production sometime this month. A more expensive model will cost £20.

Low Cost Machine

In December the computer charity that is developing the computer stated that the devices were undergoing electrical testing, and the beta run of ten computers would be auctioned off on eBay.

Prior to that, the charity released a video of the Raspberry PI running first-person-shooter PC game Quake III, to demonstrate the potential power of the system.

The charity had first revealed the tiny computer to the world in May 2011. It is the brainchild of David Braben of Frontier Developments. Braben is an industry veteran games developer, perhaps best known for co-developing the classic space-based trading computer game Elite back in the mid 1980s.

Amazing Generosity

“When we started auctioning beta Raspberry Pis to raise money for the charity a few days ago, we imagined each one maybe raising a few hundred quid,” said a blog posting on the charity’s web site. “Consider our gast well and truly flabbered.”

“We are absolutely amazed by the generosity of the people bidding on the beta boards,” it said. “Every penny from the auction goes straight to our charity, where it will fund the making of more Raspberry Pis to go into schools. We know that those bidding are probably reading this, and we want to say a heartfelt thank you to you all for your support.”

So what does the user get for the modest sum of £15?

Machine Specs

Well as you expect, there are no cutting edge components, but the micro PC provisionally comes with a 700MHz ARM11 processor; 128MB of SDRAM; OpenGL ES 2.0; 1080p30 H.264 high-profile decode; composite and HDMI video output; USB 2.0; SD/MMC/SDIO memory card slot; general-purpose I/O; and finally open source software, namely Ubuntu, Iceweasel, KOffice, and Python.

Effectively the entire computer is housed on a tiny USB stick. Think of it as something akin to a thin client, but which is in reality much smaller. The HDMI port is used to connect to an LCD TV screen, and the USB port is used to hook up a keyboard.

The Raspberry Pi is firmly aimed at the eduction market, especially schools. A number of technology companies, including Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo and Google, have recently criticised the standard of ICT education in schools and have called for coding to be incorporated into the curriculum.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has been among the most vocal of critics, saying that the government was not doing enough to support computer science in schools and that the UK was “throwing away” its computing heritage.