Raspberry Pi was nearly snapped up by the BBC

Raspberry Pi was nearly snapped up by the BBC

Summary: Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton revealed on Thursday that he was keen to get the BBC logo on the credit card-sized computer, which is now selling out across the UK.


Raspberry Pi creator Eben Upton revealed last night that the credit card-sized Linux computer was nearly snapped up by the BBC.

"We really wanted to put the BBC brand on this... we wanted to put the BBC brand on this so badly," Upton told an audience on Thursday at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London.


Several people on the Raspberry Pi Foundation's board of trustees were heavily involved with the BBC Micro. They were therefore able to organise meetings with the BBC to see if the broadcaster was interested in backing the project to create a cheap computer for teaching programming to kids, he said. 

However, Upton explained that they eventually realised the BBC's commercialisation arm was not able to invest in the Raspberry Pi.

"As a state-funded entity, it cannot go and muscle in," said Upton, who still works for Broadcom as a chip architect.

The BBC Micro is credited with helping educate a generation of UK programmers. Image: Tech Republic

However, the broadcaster has a history in this area: in the 1980s, it created the BBC Micro, used widely in classrooms to teach programming. The PC sold more than 1.5 million — a huge bump up on the 12,000 it was expected to shift — before going out of production in 1994, and it is credited with helping create a generation of British programmers.

In one final attempt to get the BBC onboard last May, Upton approached BBC technology journalist and fellow Cambridge University graduate Rory Cellan-Jones.

"He also told us no," said Upton light-heartedly. "What he did say is, 'Can I take a video of this thing and put it on my blog?'"

The video received 600,000 hits in two days and the popularity of the Raspberry Pi has continued to grow ever since. The $35 device has sold 400,000 units to date, according to Upton, who said he hopes sales will surpass one million by the end of February 2013. 

Topics: PCs, Hardware, Linux, Open Source, United Kingdom

Sam Shead

About Sam Shead

Sam is generally at his happiest with a new piece of technology in his hands or nailing down an exclusive story. In the past he's written for The Engineer and the Daily Mail. These days, Sam is particularly interested in emerging technology, datacentres, cloud, storage and web start-ups.

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  • My RPi 512mb will be here today!

    I already have my Gentoo SD Card built and ready to go.
  • Old Pi Photo

    The new ones have the much-coveted two mounting holes.
    Mac Hosehead
  • £25 Or $25

    Obviously, there is a difference, and frankly, every time I go to a Raspberry Pi vendor's web site in the USA, I can almost smell the disappointment that the price for such a hot product was prescribed, in their minds, prematurely. I am certain that such distributors wish they could roll back time so that the no price could be given so that they could increase their margin. By you writing "£25" instead of "$25", or more correctly, not being very clear about which model costs $25 and which does not, you are giving them an "out" at our collective expense.

    For the record, unless I am mistaken, the list price for the Model A of the Raspberry Pi is $25, not £25.
    Le Chaud Lapin