BBC micro:bit computer memory
- 2012 - 2016
Four BBC micro:bit development prototypes, 'Farnell 550' model. This was the first time the silk screen fringe design was printed in red and yellow, and the first appearance of the silk screen logo stickers.
The devices were distributed by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation in the UK and around the world, for 8-14 year-olds to learn basic coding and programming. 2 million BBC micro:bits were made and distributed within two years (2016-2018), in over 50 countries.
This is a unique, personal collection, brought together by the former Program Manager, Philip Meitiner. Other members of the team have retained boards that they worked on, but Philip collected the whole series as a personal record of the project. They were given to him by the BBC at the end of the project.
The BBC micro:bit was launched by BBC Learning in March 2016 as part of the BBC’s Make it Digital initiative (which was launched in March 2015), and they were delivered free to every year 7 student in England and Wales. Teachers such as Mrs Emily Rowland, Fairfield High School, Droylsden, reported: “We have launched rockets, built robots and created music all with the micro:bit.” Winners of the 2018 micro:bit Global Challenge created devices that reflected the concerns of their communities such as monitors for health, food waste, pollution, and security.
The BBC micro:bit is intended as a springboard for further learning and more advanced products like Arduino, Galileo, Kano and Raspberry Pi, and was inspired by the BBC Micro (1.5m produced) and its impact on home and school computing in the early 1980s.
Testing of the prototypes was conducted with 14 schools nationally, during Summer 2015. The series of prototypes show the innovation required to bring the computer to mass production and distribution. Issues included:
Replacing the coin cell battery with a battery pack
Fitting the Bluetooth radio aerial onto the board and meeting the required safety parameters
Minimising the risk of electrostatic discharge, while not wanting to hide the electronic components from view
Hosting the files for firmware/software, bill of materials and schematic as open source while not releasing the files for production (Gerber files)
The series also reflects the design decisions such as the shape, labelling, logo, and edge connector, and the new innovation of coloured silkscreen printing onto the circuit boards.