The BBC has officially launched the new Micro:bit pocket computer and begun giving away the promised 1m free units to children in year 7 throughout the UK.
The device, unveiled earlier this year, is designed as the spiritual successor to the BBC Micro of the 1980s. The BBC hopes it will have the same impact as the original, inspiring more young people to explore the possibilities of coding and consider a career in digital sectors.
The final version of the BBC Micro:bit was revealed this week and adds several new features. In addition to the 25 red LEDs and two programmable buttons, the microcomputer now also includes a motion-sensing accelerometer, Bluetooth functionality, and a ‘magnetometer’ or built-in compass that can track which direction the device is facing.
The Micro:bit is completely programmable, and can be used to create rudimentary games, as well as interact with other devices, such as pausing and playing music, powering robots and motors, or serving as a controller for other computers.
You can find the full technical specifications over at the BBC Media Centre.
The BBC has partnered with a series of firms to finalise and produce both the device and support materials, including ARM, Samsung, Microsoft, The Wellcome Trust and more.
The rollout has begun, with the Micro:bit due to arrive in schools towards the end of October. The BBC hopes to have distributed all 1m free units by the end of 2015, with plans to make it commercially available later in the year.