Linux Voice has a great interview with Eben Upton on the new Raspberry Pi A+.
Eben Upton came up with the idea of an affordable credit card-sized Linux PC while working as the Director of Studies in Computer Science at St John’s College, Cambridge. Part of his role was to manage and monitor undergraduate admissions, something Cambridge appeared to be fast running out of.
“It wasn’t a case of me waking up one day wanting to make a credit card-sized computer, but waking up one day and realising we’ve got no computer science students and wondering why,” explains Upton. “Ultimately we came to the conclusion that there was a distinct lack of programmable computers for kids and we started putting some thought into what we could do about it.”
As he talks Eben brandishes the latest offering in the Raspberry Pi line-up, the Model A+. It looks rather different to its predecessors, almost as if someone’s taken a hacksaw to a Raspberry Pi and lopped an end clean off. As it turns out, that’s almost exactly what happened, but there’s a bit more to the story than that…
For a start, this isn’t the first time the Raspberry Pi’s winning formula has been tweaked. Earlier this year the Foundation launched the B+, an improved version of its 3.5 million-selling Model B. It’s the board Upton refers to as the ‘deluxe model’, because while the Model A is the Foundation’s affordable flagship Pi priced at $25, the B comes with the added convenience of extra USB ports and Ethernet networking for an extra $10. The dream was to produce a $25 computer powered by open source software, but it seems the vast majority of geeks and educators were more than happy to pay an extra ten bucks for the privilege.
Thanks to the massive success of the Model B, the team employed by the charity has positively ballooned over the last 12 months (even so the entire workforce can be counted on two hands and one foot). One of those new employees was Director of Hardware, James Adams, who was tasked to taking over from founding member Pete Lomas to create the Raspberry Pi Plus line.
With a combination of user feedback and raw common sense, Adams utilised the new economies of scale and reputation the Foundation had achieved to really go to town with the Model B+ improving the board layout, adding more General Purpose Inputs & Output (GPIO) pins, doubling the number of USB ports and massively improving power consumption among other things. And all this happened at the same retail price as the original Model B.
It was just the ticket too. The B+ became the fastest selling credit card-sized PC in the world almost overnight. “Even though it was only a couple of weeks from when the B+ came out, we sold more Raspberry Pi’s in that half of July than we’ve ever sold in any single month before,” enthused Upton. Today the Raspberry Pi is selling over 100 thousand per month and the Foundation is on the brink of selling its four millionth Linux-powered PC.
Check out the full piece here.
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