Raspberry Pi? Buying frenzy crashes website

Overwhelming demand for the Raspberry Pi computer has overwhelmed its website on launch.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

A new British computer that costs a mere £22 ($35) has experienced such high levels of demand that its website crashed.

Launched this morning at 6.00 am GMT, the credit-card sized Linux computer immediately sold out -- crashing not only the official launch website but also other manufacturers that sell the machine.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has had to replace the original website with a static page offering details of sales partners and offering updates via its @Raspberry_Pi Twitter account. The website message reads:

"We've temporarily changed to a static site, while we're experiencing a very high level of traffic for the launch of the Raspberry Pi. The full site will return once traffic levels have subsided, hopefully later on today."

Today's sales were limited to one per customer, so as many people as possible could purchase one of the devices.

The high demand for such a machine is uncommon in the relatively quiet tech sphere in the UK, of which the first model was originally intended purely for developers to write software that can be used on the machine.

Rather than simply developers attempting to purchase it, the general public also want to own their own device -- which has caused the shutting-down of the launch site due to such overwhelming demand.

The scheme, years in the making, is aimed at encouraging children to learn how to both control and program computers -- potentially helping to bridge an ever-widening skills gap in the technological and business industries. At such a small price (and perhaps even cheaper if bought in bulk), many schools would be able to purchase a number of them for students to use.

The younger generation may be considered more tech-savvy than their elders, however, knowing how to access social networks or use Microsoft Office applications does not necessarily equate to knowing how the software actually works -- a skills gap that many businesses and organisations are now coming across.

The Raspberry Pi is sold uncased and comes with a USB port for a keyboard, an Ethernet port, SD card slot, a HDMI port for video and is able to run a number of systems. In order to use the Raspberry Pi, users must supply their own keyboard and screen.

The $35 version runs as a Linux computer with 256MB RAM -- although a £16 ($25) version is in the making and will be available later in the year.

Created by volunteers, mainly from technological and academic circles, the Raspberry Pi Foundation hopes that it will help inspire children to learn how to program. The charity was set up by Eben Upton, who thought up the idea five years ago after becoming concerned over the lack of knowledge displayed by university applicants in the fields of computing and programming.

It is hoped that the strong community of developers and enthusiasts now surrounding the Raspberry Pi will develop additional software and perhaps other avenues in which the device can be used.

Within a month, the company hope they will be able to take batch orders for the computers with two manufacturers, Premier Farnell and RS Components. As the Raspberry Pi Foundation has entered into licensing agreement with the two manufacturers, production will be scaled to meet demand -- and if we take the launch day into account, that is likely to be beyond the charity's expectations.


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