Raspberry Pi Is a Trip Back to the '80s: Page 2 of 2

to do it.”

The original goal for production of the Raspberry Pi was 10,000 units. “We raised enough in financing to build 10,000. We decided we could sell those and build more,” he said. Even so, the 600,000 views on YouTube gave Upton pause. Maybe the demand would be greater. His suspicions were confirmed. “When we starting selling it, we received orders for 100,000 in one day,” he said. “It was an amazing day. Now we’re four-and-a-half years in and we’ve sold 10 million. We’re now on Raspberry Pi 3.”

Getting Programming to Trend Again

Upton has no control over who buys the computers. The hope is that it will get into the hands of students. “At first the computers went to people like us. In the next year, it was hobbyists,” said Upton. “Then it became schools. The tone of the comments changed then. The comments started coming from teachers who were showing us what their students were doing.”

Over the years, interest in Raspberry Pi has exploded. The tiny computer has attracted a wide range of support. “The important part is the community. We have an army of volunteer engineers giving their time, risk capital, and open source software,” said Upton. “Without them, Raspberry Pi would never have left the drawing board.”

The Raspberry Pi organization itself has grown steadily but cautiously. “We sold more than 800,000 before we hired our first employees. We now have 70 people working,” said Upton. “We began as a voice in the wilderness. Now we work alongside dozens of organizations. We have corporate sponsors that include Google, Oracle, and ARM. We’ve spawned a community of start-ups. People are building businesses around Raspberry Pi.

Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 15 years, 12 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cyber security. For 10 years he was owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.

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