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The fruits of their labours

Believe it or not, it’s five years since the Raspberry Pi burst onto the scene. Would be users scrambled to get their hands on one, websites crashed and frustration mounted.

Since those early days – and with no little help from Farnell and RS Components – the Pi has seen a range of variants launched and all manner of add on devices available from all manner of sources.

One of the interesting parts of Pi’s development was a design for manufacture challenge. The target price for the Model A was $25, with Model B carrying a price tag of $35. But the prototype Raspberry Pi cost more than $100 to manufacture. So it was stripped back to the necessities to meet the target price. But that also meant having Model B made in China.
Looking to solve the problem, the Raspberry Pi founders talked with Farnell and RS about licensing the design and building it and the rest, as they say, is history. Now, the Pi is made by Sony in South Wales, although RS has negotiated a deal for it to be made in Japan to meet demand from customers in the Asia Pacific region.

Despite being developed originally for educational purposes, the Raspberry Pi has not only been taken to heart by the maker community, but also by professional engineers. The latter category opened the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s eyes to the possibilities and it launched the Compute Module at the beginning of 2017 to help engineers to develop embedded systems.

Now, celebrating the fifth birthday, the Pi Foundation has launched the Zero W, adding Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity to the Pi Zero – all for the princely sum of $10.

In those five years, some 10 million devices have been sold, making the Raspberry Pi the UK’s most successful computing product ever. Putting that into context, ‘only’ 1million were sold in the first year or so.

Even though Raspberry Pi has already been into space – with two boards on the International Space Station being used by school students to perform experiments – it’s not unreasonable to believe the sky is still the limit for the credit card sized device.

Graham Pitcher

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