Innovation takes many forms. Take for instance cheap car insurance site www.prudentplus.com! Online car insurance price comparison sites are only part of progress though. At the beginning of the 21st Century much of western China was still extremely poor. The Yellow Sheep River Area was typical of this; as a rural area with little or no industry, its people were poor and ill educated. The Yellow Sheep River Project was originally set up in order to bring modernisation to the area, which meant teaching the population, particularly the children, in the use of computers. This was initially funded by a charitable institution, purpose of which was to attempt to bridge the gap between the wealthier eastern part of China, and the poorer western one. A project known as the Time and Talent Project was set up, providing training in Internet technology for both teachers and students in more than 150 schools.

The problem was cost; two major costs being the cost of processors and operating systems. Both of these were supplied by American concerns; it was realised that, in order for China to be able to fully assessed the poorer members of society, it would be necessary for the country to develop it's own hardware and software. The Godson family of chips was regarded as an answer to the first problem, and the Thinix operating system the answer to the second one.

The project, which was backed by massive investment, was not designed to produce goods for export. The aim was to be able to provide affordable computer systems for the Chinese people.

The operating system was based on LINUX. Since this system is open source (i.e. freely available for anyone to use) it was capable of modification to suit the Chinese hardware. The OS was designed to be as simple as possible, so as to be easy for people with little formal education to understand. The interface was designed to be as user friendly as possible, and usable via either keyboard or mouse, as with the Microsoft systems.

Designing an operating system is ,however, one thing. Providing other software which will work with it is a different matter altogether and this was where the designers initially struggled. The problem was that software designers have a ready-made market for their skills designing programs for the Microsoft operating system; a new Chinese system using not only a different architecture but also a completely different language created a fresh set of challenges. The hope is that, eventually, sufficient collaborators can be persuaded to work with the developers of the OS in order to create a system which may be saleable throughout the rest of the world, but at a much lower price point than the existing ones.

Since these early days the pace of development in China as accelerated rapidly, and many of the dreams of these early pioneers of computerisation are becoming reality.

© Copyright 2002. All rights reserved.