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One decade, 46 million units: Happy birthday, Raspberry Pi
Eben Upton on RISC-V, supply chains, and what’s next for the dinky computers
Mon 28 Feb 2022 // 12:31 UTC
INTERVIEW Today marks 10 years since the Raspberry Pi was made available to purchase. We spoke to Pi supremo Eben Upton about the last decade and what the future might hold.
The Raspberry Pi team has elected to mark the milestone on 28 February, it being the last day of the month this year – for many 29 February 2012 was when units were first available. Looking back at 2012, the numbers look almost farcical when one considers how things turned out.
50,000 people downloaded this really primitive operating system for a machine that you couldn’t buy!
“We were already aware that it was going to be bigger than expected,” says Upton. “We had this idea of doing 1,000 or 10,000 or something… we had a couple of thousand units on order with our first contract manufacturer in China.
“Around Christmas time, when we got the first beta boards back, we put an operating system [based on Debian] online… and it had 50,000 downloads. And all you could do was run it in QEMU (there was a QEMU config you could build that was similar enough to a Raspberry Pi).
“50,000 people downloaded this really primitive operating system for a machine that you couldn’t buy!” he exclaims.
And that was when realisation dawned that demand for the hardware would be far higher than a run of 1,000, 10,000 or even 100,000 units.
Upton tells us that approximately 46 million units have been manufactured to date. Although getting hold of one in 2022 is a bit of challenge. More on that later….