How-To Geek

The Inside Story Of Raspberry Pi

The Raspberry Pi, a credit-card sized computer, took the world by storm in 2012. Read on as we take an inside look at the board and the company behind it–and how they were shocked to sell almost a million of them instead of a thousand.

ZDnet has an extensive writeup about the Raspberry Pi and its designer Eben Upton. They write:

Eben Upton’s overwhelming emotion at having co-created a $35 Linux computer that sold in the hundreds of thousands last year is surprise.

The 34-year-old chip architect is genuinely taken aback that demand for the Raspberry Pi proved to be orders of magnitude larger than a small pool of aspiring UK computer engineers.

“We honestly did think we would sell about 1,000, maybe 10,000 in our wildest dreams. We thought we would make a small number and give them out to people who might want to come and read computer science at Cambridge,” he told ZDNet.

The first inkling of the fervour the credit card-sized board would create came in May 2011, when the first public outing of the Pi in a BBC video generated some 600,000 views on YouTube.

Upton and his colleagues revised their initial run of boards up to 10,000, thinking that would be more than enough to meet demand.

It wasn’t. The 10,000 boards sold out within hours of going on sale in February last year, with an incredible 100,000 boards ordered on that first day.

Today more than 700,000 Raspberry Pi computers have been shipped to modders who are fitting them to robotic drones in the sky and underwater, to hobbyists designing home automation systems, and to wannabe coders looking to build their first programs.

We can certainly understand the popularity of the small and powerful computer, HTG staff members alone are responsible for at least a dozen of those hundreds of thousands of Raspberry Pi purchases (to build, among other things, Raspbmc media centers).

Hit up the link below to read the full article at ZDnet.

The Inside Story of Raspberry Pi [ZDNet]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/18/13

Comments (7)

  1. Uh Oh

    Who wudda thunk it? People don’t want to shell out hundreds or even thousands of dollars for something a simple $35 system could do.

    Are you (bleeping) kidding me?!

    The craze the Raspberry Pi is enjoying is testament to the idiotic geniuses who can’t understand the first thing about economics! Steve Jobs didn’t. Bill Gates didn’t.

    So do you think maybe there’s room for improvement where services are concerned? Or how about someone just making a cheap modifiable cell phone?! It’s probably never gonna happen as long as bankers and lawyers are involved. So chalk one up to pure luck with the Raspberry Pi.

    Mark my words! These things won’t STAY at $35 for very long. (Seems to me I recall them starting at only $25!)

  2. Bjarnovikus

    $25 for model A, $35 for model B ;)

  3. rws8258

    @Uh Oh,

    You said, “Mark my words! These things won’t STAY at $35 for very long. (Seems to me I recall them starting at only $25!)”

    Please be aware that the “original” $25 version still sells for only $25. The hopped-up version –which I have– started out at $35; and, it’s still only $35.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying supply-vs-demand (“Economics 101”) will not affect the VALUE of these products… a quick check on eBay reveals the Model B going for around $45 – $55, plus S&H. That’s around 64% mark-up!

    However, the #1 GOAL of this non-profit’s mission is to keep the price point low, low, low… or, don’t even bother.

    That’s just my 2 cents. (Or, should I say, 35 bucks, which, in this day and age… is about the same.)


  4. Uh Oh

    You forget, these things (Raspberry Pi’s) have hardly been in existence for even a year! There really hasn’t been enough time to let all the bankers and lawyers get in on the act.

    I know Eben Upton said he really didn’t expect the craze that happened. Again, that’s just more testament to the idiotic geniuses of the tech world ignoring economics. But now that it’s here, Eben Upton may decide to sell his “company” or even start another venture making HTPC’s with the R/P as the heart of each system. He could even just walk away (which would be my guess) letting someone else like Microsoft of Google take over – which they may do anyway!

    Point is, all the greedy business types that I’m sure are courting Eben Upton (or at least his project) will want to make money. Problem is, the conventional business thinking is to never let those profits decline which ultimately keeps all the stock holders happy; stock holders made up of mostly bankers and lawyers. And in the case of the R/P that just hasn’t happened — yet!

    So no matter how you look at it, the R/P will eventually go up in price if it doesn’t just fizzle out altogether. The only questions will be, who will be making it and for how much?

  5. herp

    You guys are aware of what economics is, right? It’s actually pretty much the reason why Apple and Microsoft aren’t just on the map, but why they’re captain’s of their industries.

    Innovation and economics are not synonyms.

  6. TheMonkeyKing

    Hey guys…they were warned, months ahead. I was one of them. I tried to draw their attention to what was going to happen and the worst part, they would actually be hated for their ineptness. I was told to quit being snarky and such a downer or they would ban me from their forums and remove my replies from their website.

    I had the idea that they should have people pay more for the privilege of having one of the first batch of Pi. Take a look at the lines outside the Apple store when new products arrive. Take a look at OLPC, which they had a direct relation of a university creating a product and how they stumbled (and succeeded) in putting out their product.

    We have netbooks because of the OLPC project showed Microsoft, Intel and China that there was a market for cheap, dependable small function “laptops.”

    They ignored warnings saying that they were only a small community providing something for the kids. Surprise is only that they ignored the warnings that what would happen actually happened. And if they really thought about the viability of their non-profit organization then they should have realized people were willing to pay to be the first one to have their product. They could have upsold the Pi much better than they did. Now, only time will tell to see if they are still relevant in a couple of years or fall back into a tiny niche market like the OLPC.

  7. Rex

    Reminds me of another company. They designed a programmable 4-bit calculator/computer chip and made a first production run of 10,000. They figured accounting would write off the remaining inventory of these chips in 10 years. It took months to get the company to make this chip — the 4004. The sold out and were back-ordered within 3 months. They thought, lets make an 8-bit chip and thus the 8008 was born. This was followed by the 8080, then 8085. The 16-bit version was the 8086. The company is Intel.

    My suggestion for the Pi2 is a dual or quad core 1.2-1.6 MHz ARM with wifi b/g/n, GPS, Bluetooth, SATA interface, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet 10/100, 3-4 USB ports out, 1 OTG port, 1-2 GB ram, 1 microSDHC 1-32GB for OS (Android or Ubuntu) + second microSDHC 1-32GB for applications/data, 16 I/O digital, 8 8-bit analog, and a temperature sensor. The OS microSD cards for Android, Ubuntu, and Puppy Linux could be sold separately. No NAND flash on the board, but use the microSDHC cards instead. That way the OS can be upgraded or changed just by changing the microSDHC card. Price < $100 US.

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