Happy birthday to us!
The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that today is 28 February, which is as close as you’re going to get to our sixth birthday, given that we launched on a leap day. For the last three years, we’ve launched products on or around our birthday: Raspberry Pi 2 in 2015; Raspberry Pi 3 in 2016; and Raspberry Pi Zero W in 2017. But today is a snow day here at Pi Towers, so rather than launching something, we’re taking a photo tour of the last six years of Raspberry Pi products before we don our party hats for the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Before there was Raspberry Pi, there was the Broadcom BCM2763 ‘micro DB’, designed, as it happens, by our very own Roger Thornton. This was the first thing we demoed as a Raspberry Pi in May 2011, shown here running an ARMv6 build of Ubuntu 9.04.
A few months later, along came the first batch of 50 “alpha boards”, designed for us by Broadcom. I used to have a spreadsheet that told me where in the world each one of these lived. These are the first “real” Raspberry Pis, built around the BCM2835 application processor and LAN9512 USB hub and Ethernet adapter; remarkably, a software image taken from the download page today will still run on them.
We shot some great demos with this board, including this video of Quake III:
Pete spent the second half of 2011 turning the alpha board into a shippable product, and just before Christmas we produced the first 20 “beta boards”, 10 of which were sold at auction, raising over £10000 for the Foundation.
Here’s Dom, demoing both the board and his excellent taste in movie trailers:
Rather to Pete’s surprise, I took his beta board design (with a manually-added polygon in the Gerbers taking the place of Paul Grant’s infamous red wire), and ordered 2000 units from Egoman in China. After a few hiccups, units started to arrive in Cambridge, and on 29 February 2012, Raspberry Pi went on sale for the first time via our partners element14 and RS Components.
We took over 100000 orders on the first day: something of a shock for an organisation that had imagined in its wildest dreams that it might see lifetime sales of 10000 units. Some people who ordered that day had to wait until the summer to finally receive their units.
Even as we struggled to catch up with demand, we were working on ways to improve the design. We quickly replaced the USB polyfuses in the top right-hand corner of the board with zero-ohm links to reduce IR drop. If you have a board with polyfuses, it’s a real limited edition; even more so if it also has Hynix memory. Pete’s “rev 2” design made this change permanent, tweaked the GPIO pin-out, and added one much-requested feature: mounting holes.
If you look carefully, you’ll notice something else about the revision 2 board: it’s made in the UK. 2012 marked the start of our relationship with the Sony UK Technology Centre in Pencoed, South Wales. In the five years since, they’ve built every product we offer, including more than 12 million “big” Raspberry Pis and more than one million Zeros.
Economies of scale, and the decline in the price of SDRAM, allowed us to double the memory capacity of the Model B to 512MB in the autumn of 2012. And as supply of Model B finally caught up with demand, we were able to launch the Model A, delivering on our original promise of a $25 computer.
In 2014, James took all the lessons we’d learned from two-and-a-bit years in the market, and designed the Model B+, and its baby brother the Model A+. The Model B+ established the form factor for all our future products, with a 40-pin extended GPIO connector, four USB ports, and four mounting holes.
While James was working on the Model B+, Broadcom was busy behind the scenes developing a follow-on to the BCM2835 application processor. BCM2836 samples arrived in Cambridge at 18:00 one evening in April 2014 (chips never arrive at 09:00 — it’s always early evening, usually just before a public holiday), and within a few hours Dom had Raspbian, and the usual set of VideoCore multimedia demos, up and running.
We launched Raspberry Pi 2 at the start of 2015, pairing BCM2836 with 1GB of memory. With a quad-core Arm Cortex-A7 clocked at 900MHz, we’d increased performance sixfold, and memory fourfold, in just three years.
And of course, while James was working on Raspberry Pi 2, Broadcom was developing BCM2837, with a quad-core 64-bit Arm Cortex-A53 clocked at 1.2GHz. Raspberry Pi 3 launched barely a year after Raspberry Pi 2, providing a further doubling of performance and, for the first time, wireless LAN and Bluetooth.
Zero to hero
Where the PC industry has historically used Moore’s Law to “fill up” a given price point with more performance each year, the original Raspberry Pi used Moore’s law to deliver early-2000s PC performance at a lower price. But with Raspberry Pi 2 and 3, we’d gone back to filling up our original $35 price point. After the launch of Raspberry Pi 2, we started to wonder whether we could pull the same trick again, taking the original Raspberry Pi platform to a radically lower price point.
The result was Raspberry Pi Zero. Priced at just $5, with a 1GHz BCM2835 and 512MB of RAM, it was cheap enough to bundle on the front of The MagPi, making us the first computer magazine to give away a computer as a cover gift.
We followed up with the $10 Raspberry Pi Zero W, launched exactly a year ago. This adds the wireless LAN and Bluetooth functionality from Raspberry Pi 3, using a rather improbable-looking PCB antenna designed by our buddies at Proant in Sweden.
Of course, this isn’t all. There has been a veritable blizzard of point releases; RAM changes; Chinese red units; promotional blue units; Brazilian blue-ish units; not to mention two Camera Modules, in two flavours each; a touchscreen; the Sense HAT (now aboard the ISS); three compute modules; and cases for the Raspberry Pi 3 and the Zero (the former just won a Design Effectiveness Award from the DBA). And on top of that, we publish three magazines (The MagPi, Hello World, and HackSpace magazine) and a whole host of Project Books and Essentials Guides.
Forward the Foundation
Why does all this matter? Because we’re providing everyone, everywhere, with the chance to own a general-purpose programmable computer for the price of a cup of coffee; because we’re giving people access to tools to let them learn new skills, build businesses, and bring their ideas to life; and because when you buy a Raspberry Pi product, every penny of profit goes to support the Raspberry Pi Foundation in its mission to change the face of computing education.
We’ve had an amazing six years, and they’ve been amazing in large part because of the community that’s grown up alongside us. This weekend, more than 150 Raspberry Jams will take place around the world, comprising the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend.
If you want to know more about the Raspberry Pi community, go ahead and find your nearest Jam on our interactive map — maybe we’ll see you there.
Nice to know my Hynix RAM model B from the original 10000 is even rarer than I thought.
Sadly I don’t have the box and I’ve bent a few pins so I suspect selling it as an antique won’t fund my retirement :-(
You mean it’s not Mint In Box? Sacrilege.
I remember the “most Raspberry Pis just end up in drawers” meme: after the first few million we figured either that had to be wrong or we were keeping IKEA in business.
I have one with pi-pass (polyfuses bridged with piece of wire) so not pristine either. And it came with black element14 raspberry t-shirt. I still wear it!
Ah, the famous element14 apology t-shirt. Used to see quite a few of those at events: they’re quite durable.
I have a Hynix RAM model B. In a box. Signed by Eben!
Amongst a few other Pi (well more than a few. Allot?)
I have one of these older 256 meg boards as well! It was my second computer that I tinkered with in middle school.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PI! Love you guys! Hopefully much more coming soon.
Thanks! And don’t worry: we’re not quite done yet.
Thanks. MFNY 2011 seems a long time ago now, right?
yeah. you had a bit more hair then :P
Alan Mc (Irish Framboise)
MOVE ‘HAIR’ to SUB-BUFFER-SOURCE
MOVE SPACES to SUB-BUFFER-TARGET
MOVE ‘A’ to SUB-SEARCH-STRING
MOVE ‘E’ to SUB-REPLACE-STRING
move 1 to SUB-SEARCH-LENGTH
move 1 to SUB-REPLACE-LENGTH
CALL ‘SIMOSUB1’ using SUBSTITUTE-PARAMETERS
My one from the first batch has retired from running riscos in my old landy and now happily sits on my desk surrounded by her offspring!
Happy birthday, Pi.
Thanks. I remember driving out to Bury to meet with Castle Technology people in a hotel bar. Having lusted after an Archimedes I could never afford as a kid, getting RISC OS on there was a high priority.
Great post Eben, love the “Celebrating 500,000 Welsh units, back when that seemed like a lot” comment.
Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi! What a long way you’ve come in your first 6 years :-D
Thanks Andrew :)
If you’d like to update your spreadsheet… One of those 50 Alpha boards is framed on the wall of my office
Rumours I named my daughter after those boards are somewhat exaggerated.
Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi!
Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi, and here’s to many more. Really appreciate what you all are doing.
And I approve the Zer0 to Her0 headline. ;)
Happy birthday everyone!
Solo you’re not launching something new because of snow? Does that mean a new product is getting released in the near future, justnot today? :-)
You may be reading too much into that sentence :)
I knew it, was right! :)
Nice wrap Eben, Happy Birthday Raspberry Pi, congratulations to everyone involved. What a fantastic journey it’s been!
Happy birthday, Eben and all!
I remember how nervous I was when buying 10 of those first 2.000. Just to be completety out of stock within minutes of opening for sales :-)
You are truly making a difference by making it affordable and easy to get started with electronic development.
It’s been a blast, right? Just went back and dug out your mail to me from 7 November 2011, when you were at Aalborg. Talk about an early adopter!
Happy birthday! What a great read, and to think my excitement hasn’t waned in 6 years, just grown stronger! The raspberry pi foundation has not just made me more optimistic about technology, but literally life and humanity in general – thank you with all my heart.
PS I do have raspberry pis sitting in drawers, but they are all powered up ;)
For obvious legal reasons we can’t endorse powering up Raspberry Pis while they’re in your drawers :)
My Rpi B 256mb runs pihole sitting next to my Pi B 3 running osmc, I have a few more doing versus stuff.
Thank you, I’m 21 now 15 year old me learned a lot from the pi.. Sadly i still don’t know how to code..
When I’ll be done with the army I’ll time hopefully.
Unrelated question I have a pi b 3 that can’t boot from known good sd cards and images, always gives out errors or won’t even boot.. What can I do?..
Was your broken Pi dead on arrival, or did it develop a fault subsequently? Worth giving the place you bought it from a try in either case, and let me know how you get on (@EbenUpton on Twitter).
Why do you guys keep saying ‘subsequently’?
Perfectly cromulent word.
What a ride it has been, I remember umming and ahhing about buying a 256mb pi model B back in the day and then figuring out why i was getting repeated keystrokes on the command line (bad power supply)
I had been about 90% a Windows guy before that and the pi gave me a good opportunity to brush up on my Linux skills.
There’s lots more Linux deployed in my day job as a sysadmin thanks to the pi.
Happy Birthday Eben and everyone at the foundation ! There are so many possibilities that Raspberry Pis bring to the world. Keep up with the good work!
Yay! Raspberry pi 6! It comes with GSM 4G, six legs, and sharp teeth.
Happy Birthday! What an amazing journey the last six years have been.
I still have my first Pi with the polyfuses and sticker CE logo. It was so exciting ordering that first day and seeing the huge positive response to all of your hard work.
Now I can go into MicroCenter and see giant baskets full of Pi 3s!
We do love Micro Center. I remember my first visit during Maker Faire in New York in 2015, and being blown away by the breadth of their maker range. We have nothing quite like that in the UK.
You hear that Micro Center? Build one in England.
Happy Birthday to the Raspberry Pi Foundation and best wishes for many more years Eben and team!
I’ve got a few Pi’s heading to my school to get my students started on the road of programming and making.
We’re looking forward to new and exciting things in the future!
Configuration! I’m looking forward to enjoying Raspberry Jam Big Birthday, here in Tokyo.
On the sixth birthday, could you tell us how many Raspberry Pis have you shipped?
I’m sorry I won’t be there to meet you all. Looked at ANA and JAL flights this weekend but couldn’t quite make it work.
We’ve sold between 17 and 18 million units total: will try to get a more accurate figure in the next few days.
Thank you for your reply! I have a session to talk tomorrow, try to help Birthday Party more enjoyable.
When you give us the number of units, I will carry it on the next issue of Raspi magazine :)
Wow! Six years ago today, I’d set my alarm clock for 4 am so that I could be one of the first in the country to get hold of this new, tiny computer, but it wasn’t until July many months later before I finally did. In the 6 years since the Raspberry_Pi computer was first released, I know it’s had a phenomenal impact on my teaching as well as the futures of so many youngsters I’ve had the privilege to work with. Thank you to all the founders of Raspberry Pi and the Raspberry Pi community for this wonderful gift and the experiences that followed.
Bought as early as possible, now have several doing all those things that I could not have afforded.
Also the support out there is awesome.
Thanks for making my retirement more like my childhood.
Thank you Eben and happy 6th birthday Raspberry Pi. This grandma really appreciates the pricing more than anything. Our five grandchildren, two boys and three girls, will all be coders – and the advent of wearable tech means the most girly of our girls is just as interested. Our Pi Zero wearable projects, with the help of Jon Witts, are just the beginning!
Great to hear. Something we discovered very early on is that grandmothers buy a lot of Raspberry Pi hardware for their grandchildren. Will have to encourage Aphra’s doting granny and grandma in that direction.
Hello from France
Yes, I waited 4 to 5 months to get the first PI B (Hynix ram version). Still have it. I have bought every model (except A and compute board) since. I have a B+, B2, B3 , Zero , Zero W and use all of them !
Waiting for the PI B 4 :-)
Cheers and MERCI for your work
De rien :)
So am I getting it right? Next year we could look forward to 7 cores?! 8-O
Happy birthday! Let’s celebrate with a RPi4 – 2ghz/2gb ram/improved video
Could we have please one little fan poll here? Minimalists have already Raspberyy Pi Zero + W, regular class is R Pi 3 and I bet at least 5-10 % of people would LOVE highend model with the most cores, all codecs, even if it rises price by 10-15 EU +/-. Anyone else would suppport this idea and buy it? I WOULD CERATINLY DO! ;)
For Pi team – please, please, pretty please, if there is place for lower end model, why not offer also better one to us, next time buyers who ***sometimes WANT to pay more*** for highend R Pi? (Many thanks for at least hearing me out and explaining why not… !) I just have to try it – some of us are serious Raspi-holics here you know… ;).
We hear you. A lot of effort goes into making the $35 product as good as it can possibly be, and we’ve been lucky that generally we can do everything we want to do in that price point. We’ll keep our eyes open in the future for opportunities to offer more features at a higher price.
Excellent! Thanks for open mind…
Great ! Thank you ! I will buy a few “pro” ones myself.
I have a boxed original Pi ordered on the very first day. Sadly some hooligans have scribbled all over the box (Eben, Rob, Jack and Gordon).
Loving the compability story. Please have a word with all the smartphone makers! My Nokia N900 is about the same age (and spec) as my Pi and yet utterly useless.
That’s one of the Maemo devices, right? Things could have been very different if Nokia had committed to that platform sooner.
I knew there was more in that piece of text :)
Not really aiming to repeat myself every Pi birthday, I can’t help but ask. Any word on a successor to the BCM2837? Yes, that would mean a new Pi soon afterwards…
And thank you for Mathematica. It has been a gift that keeps on giving! I’m into computers for 25 years but programming never really clicked. Now I’m working up the ranks at codeabbey.com. Thanks again for everything you’re doing.
Glad you like Mathematica. We’re very proud to be the first computer since the NeXTcube to ship with it in the default OS image.
Happy 6th birthday!! I’m in my 40s and when the family is asleep, I’m frequently brushing up on my Pi and Python skills. I’m often on the Pi Minecraft writing code to do graphics that I show people on Facebook. They love the ones saying “Happy B-Day” followed by their name. The camera has been great for checking on my pets and I need to get a Zero W to hide it better.
Happy birthday! A great community!
Question: what were the switch 1..3 on the prototype board? Curious.
It’s a camera demo board, so those are intended as camera controls.
Cool! Thanks Eben.
Happy Bday R-Pi Foundation! It’s been a wonderful 6 years, glad to have been part of it and learning what this little system could do!
Happy Birthday Rasberry Pi, your contribution to the industry specially for the small businesses are truly remarkable.
Congratulations on rpi’s Birthday;I’m a rpi2b user,I just want know,when the rpi4 will issue,is it coming soon?
I’ve said in the past that we see Raspberry Pi 3 as at least a three-year platform. We’re not planning to release a Raspberry Pi 4 before 2019 at the earliest.
I ordered my first RPi in the summer of 2011. When I realised how long I will wait for it (I remember forum posts with order numbers which were shipped last week), I looked for something to wet my appetite. And that’s how I discovered Arduino. RPi came in December, a week before Christmas.
That’s how electronics became my hobby. By 2014 I was so self confident that I started to teach master of science students “Introduction to electronics” during my PhD.
Thanks, Raspberry Pi! :-)
Correction – it was summer 2012, of course.
Cool story. And thanks for sticking with us despite the delay.
Happy Birthday – you are missing a photo with its ancestor… Thought you may like one:
Can I tweet that?
Your welcome to. Its one of the first 10,000 too.
Done! Thank you.
One thing we’re missing – a ‘slimmed down’ Pi3 …there’s a fairly large market for people using pi’s and removing the headers and sockets to make them fit into smaller places….
I have a bunch of mine im a plastic box instead of a drawer… they are actually used occasionally.
On the wishlist: USB3
Dr Steve Wainwright
We are using the Pi for astronomical imaging. Great computer and hopefully stimulating renewed interest in Computer Science.
I have 2 Raspberries Pi with the polyfuses. Both are in good shape, and I kept the boxes. One box is RS, the other Element 14. Six years ago I stayed up all night clicking refresh on both their websites hoping to get an order through or onto the wish list, not knowing if the half-loaded web form actually got past the POST. As it turned out I got put on to both suppliers’ wait lists. I felt slightly immoral at the time … like I had cheated the system by ordering one from each supplier while the wait lists were so long. But perhaps I earned it?
I just checked and it turns out that one of the PIs is Hynix memory, the other Samsung. I never noticed that the RAM is different on them before. Crazy! The Samsung is actually going to be put to use as a security camera that emails me a photo when someone approaches the house. Perhaps I should have the Hynix one bronzed and mounted? :-)
Thanks for all your hard work and happy 1.5th leap birthday.
James (Grey Wolf) Purcell
I can remember watching several hundred Pi cases getting destroyed. It hurts me to watch it.
I can also remember the big theft of zeros from WHSmiths by people trying to earn a quick quid!
Hi, happy birthday to all the Raspberry Pi team and the community members!.
Eben, could you tell us or anticipate something about how the Raspberry Pi´s family of products may evolve from a hardware perspective? May be on a future blog post? Please, give us a clue or two. Thanks in advance!.
The interesting thing about Raspberry Pi 3 is that it has a bit of everything: wired and wireless connectivity, USB, GPIO, camera, display, processing, video and graphics.
So, unlike the transition from Raspberry Pi 2 to Raspberry Pi 3, where we added wireless, I don’t think that the next Raspberry Pi be qualitatively different: it will be more of the same, and as always how much more will depend on what we can squeeze into that $35 price point.
What about having a Gigabit wired interface as a future update? ;) . I’d be more than happy if this becomes real!. Thanks a lot for answering!.
I think it’s likely that whatever comes next will have faster wired networking. Even a modest speed-up would be useful for a lot of use cases.
if you upgrade products like your competitors then i will be happy. your competitors are already making products with 2GB or more DDR3 RAM and 8core processor, USB3.0, gigabit ethernet, etc.
Competitors? Raspberry Pi has not-for-profit competitors? Ohh Boy, aren’t they in for a surprise!
Happy Birthday, Eben and all. Thank you for bringing back the opportunities we had in the ‘home computer days’ AND all of the competitors that come with it!!
Happy (belated) birthday to all at Pi Towers – and a heartfelt ‘thanks’ to not just ‘the team’ but also to ‘the customer base’ (that is ‘you’ !!).
The team is – obviously – hugely important for bringing the product to market, along with the constantly improving OS offerings. But every single one of you, as users, is also hugely important as well.
You keep ‘the team’ focused, and driven, and you keep the ‘newbies’ (like me, with more than forty year’s experience in electronics) supplied with new ideas and practical solutions – without which my collection of Pi’s would probably never exist.
Yes, thanks indeed to all of you.