The Raspberry Pi logo on a blue background
Raspberry Pi Foundation

You’ve probably heard of the Raspberry Pi—a series of low-cost computers popular with hobbyists. But why is it called that, and does it have anything to do with food? We’ll explore the history behind the name.

It’s a Reference to Computers From Long Ago

In a 2012 interview with TechSpot, Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton described the origin of the “Raspberry Pi” name in multiple parts. First, there’s the fruit: “Raspberry is a reference to a fruit naming tradition in the old days of microcomputers. A lot of computer companies were named after fruit.”

Five different vintage fruit-related computer company logos
A selection of five fruit-related computer company names.

Obviously, there’s Apple, which is the most famous—and likely the firm that originated the fruit-naming trend. But UK native Upton goes on to mention British firms Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, and Acorn, “which is a family of fruit.” One company he forgot to mention is Orange Micro, a defunct American company once famous for its Apple II add-ons.

As for the “Pi” part, Upton said, “We were going to produce a computer that could only really run Python. So the Pi in there is for Python.” Python is a popular programming language. During development, the design for the low-cost computer expanded to be much more capable than Upton originally intended, so although the Raspberry Pi can run Python, that is no longer its main purpose.

But like an onion, there are more layers at play here. Although Upton didn’t expressly say so, the “Pi” in the name could also be a nerdy reference to the mathematical constant (think 3.1415) of the same name. And of course, “Raspberry Pi” is also a pun for “Raspberry Pie,” a type of dessert food made with raspberries.

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B board with labels
Raspberry Pi Foundation

So taken together, “Raspberry Pi” is something like a quadruple pun, with four references:

  1. Computer history
  2. A type of food
  3. A mathematical constant
  4. The Python programing language.

It’s deep stuff, but for a computer as versatile as the Raspberry Pi, would we really expect any less?

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Profile Photo for Benj Edwards Benj Edwards
Benj Edwards is a former Associate Editor for How-To Geek. Now, he is an AI and Machine Learning Reporter for Ars Technica. For over 15 years, he has written about technology and tech history for sites such as The Atlantic, Fast Company, PCMag, PCWorld, Macworld, Ars Technica, and Wired. In 2005, he created Vintage Computing and Gaming, a blog devoted to tech history. He also created The Culture of Tech podcast and regularly contributes to the Retronauts retrogaming podcast.
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