The last week has been an incredible week for many of us here at element14. One week ago element14 brought the raspberry pi to the global market. And the response has been phenomenal. Much wilder than anyone could have imagined, even more than what the founders of raspberry pi could have even imagined. I refer to their blog post on March 3rd titled: "And breathe ..." and the post starts with the following statement: "Well, that was an incredible week." I couldn't agree more, Eben. The unprecedented demand for raspberry pi lead to quite a media frenzy with coverage all over the globe from cnn to cnet, from engadget and techspot to even a guest blog post by our own Harriet Green on Wired UK.
But let me back up a little bit. Let me start by quoting a few paragraphs from the raspberry pi about us page:
The idea behind a tiny and cheap computer for kids came in 2006, when Eben Upton and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory, including Rob Mullins, Jack Lang and Alan Mycroft, became concerned about the year-on-year decline in the numbers and skills levels of the A Level students applying to read Computer Science in each academic year. From a situation in the 1990s where most of the kids applying were coming to interview as experienced hobbyist programmers, the landscape in the 2000s was very different; a typical applicant might only have done a little web design.
Something had changed the way kids were interacting with computers. A number of problems were identified: the colonisation of the ICT curriculum with lessons on using Word and Excel, or writing webpages; the end of the dot-com boom; and the rise of the home PC and games console to replace the Amigas, BBC Micros, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64 machines that people of an earlier generation learned to program on.
There isn’t much any small group of people can do to address problems like an inadequate school curriculum or the end of a financial bubble. But we felt that we could try to do something about the situation where computers had become so expensive and arcane that programming experimentation on them had to be forbidden by parents; and to find a platform that, like those old home computers, could boot into a programming environment. From 2006 to 2008, Eben designed several versions of what has now become the Raspberry Pi; you can see one of the earliest prototypes here.
I think it is important for us to take a moment to appreciate the intent of Eben, Rob, Jack and Alan. They saw a disturbing trend around them and they came together to figure out what they can do about it. And unlike many others who have come together and talked about what should be done or what could be done, they stuck with it and put the hard work and effort to bring their ideas to life. And I find it very inspiring to see individuals pursue something with such determination.
And for me this last week has not been about the media frenzy. It hasn't been about all the social media chatter (although that's been fun to read). It hasn't even been the technical aspects (although that is quite amazing). For me this last week has been about celebrating a huge milestone in the journey that Eben, Rob, Jack and Alan set out on - years ago. And I wait with eager anticipation to see what wonderful innovation will be built by the global open source community around the raspberry pi seed - and the value that will bring not just to children in the UK, but in every other part of the world.