Raspberry Pi hits ten million sales, celebrates with 'premium' bundle

Tiny computing board has been a runaway success -- and they only expected to sell 10,000.

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Raspberry Pis have been used to build everything from robots and drones to supercomputers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Its inventors only expected to sell a few thousand, but sales of the Raspberry Pi have now hit ten million.

The tiny computer was initially designed to increase the number of people applying to study Computer Science at Cambridge, but has since become a runaway success.

"By putting cheap, programmable computers in the hands of the right young people, we hoped that we might revive some of the sense of excitement about computing that we had back in the 1980s with our Sinclair Spectrums, BBC Micros and Commodore 64s," said Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton.

But the device has captured the imagination of children and adult developers worldwide, who have used the tiny board to build a wide variety of devices, including Pi-powered PCs, tablets, supercomputers and drones. Raspberry Pi has also proved to be a handy platform for a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) developments, and has even gone into space, to be used in experiments on the International Space Station.

Surprise success

All of this came as something of a surprise to the team, who thought they might sell a total of ten thousand units -- "if we were lucky," said Upton. "There was no expectation that adults would use Raspberry Pi, no expectation of commercial success, and certainly no expectation that four years later we would be manufacturing tens of thousands of units a day in the UK, and exporting Raspberry Pi all over the world," he explained.

Since the original Raspberry Pi was launched there have been eight variations of the device, including a $5 Pi Zero -- and even more stripped-down version for people unwilling to stretch to the $35 of the main model.

"We've beaten our wildest dreams by three orders of magnitude, and we're only just getting started," said Upton.

Although the Raspberry Pi team decided to offer the board without accessories, over the years third-party distributors have produced bundles of components to boost its functionality. To mark the sale of the ten-millionth Raspberry Pi, the foundation has now put together an official Raspberry Pi Starter Kit. It features:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • An 8GB NOOBS SD card
  • An official case
  • An official 2.5A multi-region power supply
  • An official 1m HDMI cable
  • An optical mouse and a keyboard with high-quality scissor-switch action
  • A copy of Adventures in Raspberry Pi Foundation Edition

"This is an unashamedly premium product," the foundation said, which will set you back £99 (ex. VAT) and will be available internationally over the next few weeks.

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