While interviewing Eben Upton, founder of Raspberry Pi, back in 2013, he told me that he originally thought they might sell a couple of thousand units of the little educational computer. Their goal at the time was simply to get kids programming, like we did in the 80s with Sinclair Spectrums, BBC Micros and Commodore 64s.
When I met him in Copenhagen for the INDEX Design to Improve Live Awards, they were up to half a million units and still in shock. Our posts about it were at that time among our most popular, so we were a bit shocked too.
Now, it is hard to believe that they are up to ten million units. Eben writes about its start:
At the time, we thought our lifetime volumes might amount to ten thousand units – if we were lucky. There was was no expectation that adults would use Raspberry Pi, no expectation of commercial success, and certainly no expectation that four years later we would be manufacturing tens of thousands of units a day in the UK, and exporting Raspberry Pi all over the world.
With this in mind, you can imagine how strange it feels to be able to announce that over the last four and a half years we’ve sold a grand total of ten million Raspberry Pis. Thanks to you, we’ve beaten our wildest dreams by three orders of magnitude, and we’re only just getting started. Every time you buy a Raspberry Pi, you help fund both our ongoing engineering work, and our educational outreach programs.
That's the important thing about the Pi: it's not just a computer, it is a charity. There have been a lot of imitators and competitors developed in the years since; here are 8 of them. But none of them have the mission that comes with the Pi:
The Raspberry Pi Foundation works to put the power of digital making into the hands of people all over the world, so they are capable of understanding and shaping our increasingly digital world, able to solve the problems that matter to them, and equipped for the jobs of the future.
That’s why the Pi is the one to buy. It’s not just a computer, it’s part of a charity with the purpose “to further the advancement of education of adults and children, particularly in the field of computers, computer science and related subjects”. As they say in their strategy report, “We use profits generated from our commercial activities to pursue our educational goals”.
And it is a lot of fun to use. Congratulations to the Pi people on this milestone; may they sell a hundred million more.