BBC micro:bit Consortium is Ready to Make 11-Year-Olds Smarter Than You

By Gary Cutlack on at

The BBC is getting back into computing with the BBC micro:bit, a device it hopes might turn out to be a bit like the BBC Micro -- a machine that got the mid-80s generation into typing in code and endlessly printing their names on a screen for fun.

The BBC micro:bit comes with a bizarre list of 29 corporate contributors ranging from hardware companies like Samsung and ARM to charities like the Wellcome Trust. It's an amazingly ambitious project, with the goal of giving a BBC micro:bit to every year 7 child (11 -- 12 years old) across the UK, in order to jumpstart a new generation of coders to ensure that English (UK) is the default language option in the apps of the future.

That should mean around one million of the microcomputers are given away to kids, so there's going to be around 950,000 extremely confused dads finding themselves asked to help hook it up to a telly and make Halo 5 come out of it. But that won't happen. The micro:bit has 25 LEDs for a screen so is a bit too low-res for most of today's games, along with two programmable buttons, a magnetometer, accelerometer, Bluetooth and I/O rings for connecting it to real-world machines.

Tony Hall, Director-General of the BBC says: "Channelling the spirit of the Micro for the digital age, the BBC micro:bit will inspire a new generation in a defining moment for digital creativity here in the UK. All you need is your curiosity, creativity and imagination -- we'll provide the tools. This has the power to be transformative for the UK. The BBC is one of the few organisations in the world that could convene something on this scale, with such an unprecedented partnership at its core." [BBC micro:bit]