Sales of the Raspberry Pi micro-computer devised in Cambridge UK have reached 500,000 in six months and creator – technology entrepreneur Eben Upton – is confident that by Christmas sales could hit the magical million mark.The device is being used in such diverse projects as monitoring earth from space to wildlife observation in Antarctica, Kenya, Mongolia and Sri Lanka.
While two-thirds of the early sales have been in America and Europe, Africa and Asia are catching on fast.
Broadening applications for the Raspberry Pi only tell part of the success story.
Eben Upton, mastermind behind the device, passionately wants to inspire school children to form waves of new generation computer programmers.
He and his only business employee – wife Liz – devote all profits to educational activities.
Raspberry Pi is modelled on the BBC Micro computer devised by Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry at Acorn but retails for as little as £15 – a boon to communicators in territories like Africa and Asia where cash-strapped families can plug the device into an analogue television.
Upton, Broadcom Corporation’s Cambridge-based technical director, Mobile and Wireless Group, was recently recognised by MIT's Technology Review as a TR35 Honoree for 2012 for his invention of the Raspberry Pi.
The TR35 honours the world's top innovators under the age of 35, spanning biotechnology, computer and electronics hardware and software, energy, the Web, and nanotechnology, among other emerging fields.
Concerned about the decline in the number of and skill level of students in computer science, Upton set out to develop a mini-computer at a radical price point so schools could hand them out just like textbooks.
Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized motherboard with a Broadcom system on a chip (SoC) enabling unsurpassed connectivity and integration, and designed to plug into a TV or be combined with a touch screen to create a tablet.
Currently in mass production around the world, Raspberry Pi is dramatically changing how children learn about computers.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Eben Upton