Leeds-based Raspberry Pi Foundation creates tiny low-cost computers that aim to get children (and adults) into programming. This not-for-profit company has spread into schools across the UK and beyond to give students the skills to land computer science related roles for their future careers.

The Product

What is a Raspberry Pi? from Raspberry Pi Foundation on Vimeo.

The original Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized microcomputer that you can hook up to a keyboard, a mouse and a TV screen. All you’re missing is an SD card for memory which you can find in most digital cameras. At only £25 you are given the power to create, well, whatever you want. From games to weather stations, the sky really is the limit.

Raspberry Pi’s main focus is to drive down cost. They say:

“Even in the developed world, a programmable computer is a luxury item for a lot of people, and every extra dollar that we ask someone to spend decreases the chance that they’ll choose to get involved”

Since launching, Raspberry Pi microcomputers can be found in British schools and all over the world. One Quora user even stated that they’d seen a train timetable screen in India run off the back of a Raspberry Pi!

It also focuses on educational material and holds events such as Raspberry Jam.

Here are some Raspberry Pi inventions.

Music to my ears

Fishing quadcopter

Quadcopter

Physical virtual chess

The Journey

Raspberry Pi Foundation was founded by Eben Upton, Jack Lang, Robert Mullins, David Braben, Alan Mycroft and Pete Lomas back in December 2009, but only officially launched in February 2012. Their mission was to sell 10,000 units and by the end of 2016 they sold 10m. When there demand was running at 700 units per second, it comes to no surprise that they signed a deal with Sony to bring the manufacturing of the components from China, into Wales.

Only a year later, Google funded schools around the UK to be given 15,000 Raspberry Pi microcomputers. This initiative saw Google Chairman Eric Schmidt and Raspberry Pi co-founder Eben Upton give coding lessons at Chesterton Community College in Cambridge. Why did Google take an interest? At UK universities in 2013, there was a drop of 23% at undergraduate level and a drop of 34% at graduate level of computer science students. Schmidt believes that UK IT classes places too much emphasis on using software rather than creating it.

“We believe that this can turn around the year-on-year decline in the numbers and skill sets of students applying to read computer science at university.” – Eben Upton

This common interest led to partnerships with the likes of Code Club, Computing at School, Generating Genius and Coderdojo. It seemed that education was at the heart of this hardware despite there being a lot of adult traction.

By 2015, the Raspberry Pi Zero was created at a retail price of £4. It was so cheap, that they started giving the microcomputer away for free with their monthly magazine, MagPi (just £5.99).

Despite the quick success of Raspberry Pi, it hit financial trouble in the summer of 2016. To this point, it had become the best-selling British computer ever, but Premier Farnell agreed to sell Raspberry Pi to a Swiss components maker called Dätwyler for £615m. It is important to note that the majority of hardware companies in the market were struggling with key components for their products at this point.

This originally British company is now split 3 ways: Sony owns the factory, ARM (a Japanese company) are the chip designers and Swiss company Dätwyler now handles the commercial aspects. Raspberry Pi’s international background does not take away from the continuing successes of the British founded foundation that is capturing the minds of children and adults across the globe.

Let us hope they continue to successfully educate the programmers of the future.