(Wired) - A digital book reader could bring information to students in developing countries using a technology that is long past its prime: 8-bit computing.
The Humane Reader, a device designed by computer consultant Braddock Gaskill, takes two 8-bit microcontrollers and packages them in a “classic style console” that connects to a TV. The device includes an optional keyboard, a micro-SD Card reader and a composite video output. It uses a standard micro-USB cellphone charger for power.
In all, it can hold the equivalent of 5,000 books, including an offline version of Wikipedia, and requires no internet connection. The Reader will cost $20 when 10,000 or more of it are manufactured. Without that kind of volume, the each Reader will cost about $35.
“Everything about it is related to the cost,” says Gaskill. “It’s meant to be an absolute basic system that can deliver Wikipedia and e-books for educational and non-profit use.”
A major driver for this kind of technology is that 8-bit processors are cheap and people in developing countries have greater access to TVs than to computers.
“Hundreds of millions of households have TVs but no access to the internet,” says Gaskill. “I wanted to create a device that uses the display on the TV.”