10 Million Units
On the September 8th, Raspberry Pi reached an incredible milestone of 10 million units sold.
What does this mean in the world of maker tech? For comparison's sake, the Arduino had sold around 1 million in a similar 10-year timeframe.
This sale quantity also breaks the record for the best-selling British computer. In celebration of this achievement, Raspberry Pi is releasing a Premium Starter Kit which includes a Pi Computer, Keyboard, Mouse, Adventures in Raspberry Pi (book) and an 8GB SD card.
The new Raspberry Pi celebration kit. Image courtesy of Raspberry Pi.
How has Raspberry Pi got to this milestone? Why is the Pi so successful? And what does this mean for future projects and generations?
The Beginning of Pi
The Raspberry Pi’s history goes back to 2006 when early designs were based around the Atmel ATMega644. The idea was simple: to inspire children to learn how computers work and to revive a movement that had not been seen for two decades.
Inspiration came from the BBC Micro Computer (1981) which was designed by Acorn computers and endorsed by the BBC.
The BBC Micro began sales on December 1st, 1981. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
For the next few years, multiple designs were made and tested with the Raspberry Pi’s debut on the 29th February 2012.
The first Pi (Model A 1) sold for just $25. It included a 700MHz ARM1176JZF (32-bit), a SoC (system on chip) Broadcom BCM2835, 256MB RAM, a USB 2.0 port, and other common computer IO ports (sound, video, etc.).
But production problems meant that the first reports of buyers receiving their computers emerged as late as April 2012. Despite this stumble, the Pi sold over 20,000 by 22nd May 2012.
Fast forward to 2016 where a reported 4,000 units are manufactured per day.
An early model of the Raspberry Pi computer. Image courtesy of SparkFun.
As time progressed, the Raspberry Pi saw multiple changes to meet growing demand and changes to the technological environment. Later models included more RAM, faster processors, internet capabilities, and upgraded IO ports.
A Project Pi
Since its launch, Raspberry Pis have found their way into many projects ranging from simple light controllers to automated farming. It's even made its way to space—astronaut Tim Peake took a Raspberry Pi loaded up with code designed in classrooms by students aboard the ISS.
Raspberry Pi has found its way into farming thanks to Farmbot. Image courtesy of Farmbot.
The Pi is a popular controller for many reasons but the factors that stand out the most include:
- Ability to install many operating systems, including Linux
- GPIO pins that give low-level hardware control (turn on LEDs or control motors)
- Rich and complete software packages
- Ability to program in abstract languages (C++, Python)
- Ability to program in assembler (low-level language)
- Quick prototyping for projects
- Excellent cost-to-performance ratio
Just a few examples of Pi Projects include:
The Raspberry Pi has been used into classrooms all across England from the youngest students all the way to engineering students at University. Their low entry cost and flexibility has allowed the Pi to enter such a market with a truly positive effect. Assuming that each unit is sold to one individual, 10 million people have been exposed to the world of electronics and their use in everyday life.
Raspberry Pi is finding its way into schools all around England. Image courtesy of Raspberry Pi.
Young children are learning the basics of computers and how to control them with high-level languages (such as BASIC). Because everyone has equal access to such technology, children of all backgrounds can have a chance to explore the micro world and allow their imaginations to go wild. The result is a new wave of programmers who may have never existed if it were not for the Raspberry Pi.
The Pi is also bringing the joy of computers into underserved communities. Microcontroller development kits are typically expensive, difficult to use, and rely on a working computer to function. They are thus not easily found in rural communities, especially in developing nations.
With Raspberry Pi, those who do not have the privilege of economic stability, especially in their education system, can be introduced to modern computing technologies. This exposure helps to foster a more technologically-savvy population and drive innovation in rural areas.
Raspberry Pi is helping people of all ages around the world. Image courtesy of Raspberry Pi.
The Future Of Pi
The 10 million milestone is a great achievement for the team at Raspberry Pi but this is only the beginning. With continued development and further reduction in manufacturing costs, more people will be able to enter the world of the Pi.
Raspberry Pi-powered time machines, hold on! Image courtesy of Deater.net.
From an idea that originated in 1981, it is fair to say that the BBC Micro would be proud of the Raspberry Pi’s involvement in education, invention, and humanitarian projects.
We'll stay tuned to see where Raspberry Pi ventures in the future with their next 10 million units.