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New initiative gifts 1 million BBC Micro successors to UK kids

As part of the Make It Digital initiative the BBC is giving away a million BBC Micro Bit coding devices -- much like it did with the BBC Micro in the '80s, inspiring a generation of British game devs.

Alex Wawro, Contributor

March 12, 2015

1 Min Read

The BBC is making a renewed effort to support and inspire creative digital skills development with a new Make It Digital initiative, which will provide (among other things) one million BBC 'Micro Bit' coding devices. 

The last time the BBC did something like this, it sparked a wave of innovation that directly affected the game industry. 

In 1981, Acorn's BBC Microcomputer was released as part of the BBC Computer Literacy Project. The machine became a mainstay of the UK school system and birthed a wave of British "bedroom game designers" like David Braben and Ian Bell, who designed their seminal space simulator Elite for the BBC Micro.

Later this year, the BBC will donate a similar piece of programmable hardware -- "Micro Bit" is its working title, inspired by the Micro -- to a million Year 7 UK schoolchildren (typically age 11-12) in an effort to nurture their coding skills.

It's described as a portable, wearable coding device with an LED display that children can learn to program before moving up to more complex hardware like the Raspberry Pi.

The Make It Digital initiative also encompasses partnerships with Google, Microsoft, and other major tech companies in the UK, media programs exploring digital skillwork in the UK (including a documentary on the development of Grand Theft Auto) and a series of digital skills training programs for UK youth.

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