Tech Republic re-visits the story of the earliest attempts to build the Raspberry Pi, and the dramatic launch of a quest “to rekindle the curiosity about computing in a generation immersed in technology but indifferent to how it worked.”
[T]he dominant computers — games consoles and later tablets and smartphones — no longer offered an invitation to create, but rather to consume. Eben Upton recalls a bonfire party in 2007 where an 11-year-old boy told him he wanted to be an electrical engineer, and his disappointment at realizing the boy didn’t have access to a computer he could program on. “I said, ‘Oh, what computer have you got?’. He said, ‘I’ve got a Nintendo Wii’. And there was just that awful feeling about there being a kid who was excited, a kid who was showing concrete interest in our profession, and who didn’t have access to a programmable computer, a computer of any sort. He just had a games console.”
At this time Upton was working as a system-on-a-chip architect at chip designer Broadcom, and realized he had the skills to try to halt this drift away from computers that encouraged users to code.
Upton describes the Raspberry Pi as “a very conscious attempt” to bring back the easily programmable home computers that he remembered as a child in the 1980s — and he was gratified at its success. “Even early on you started to see those pictures of kids lying on the living room floor, looking up at the TV with Raspberry Pi plugged into it, the same way we used to.”
It was named “Pi” because it booted into a version of Python, and Raspberry because “There’s a lot of fruit-named computer companies, and the ‘blowing a raspberry’ thing was also deliberate.”
It’s gone on to become the world’s third best-selling general-purpose computer.