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Eben Upton: The Raspberry Pi Pioneer

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Raspberry Pi inventor Eben Upton.

Raspberry Pi inventor Eben Upton got his start at age 10, coding games in Basic on a second-hand BBC Micro.

Credit: Dan Burn-Forti

Eben Upton, the inventor of the Raspberry Pi computer, got his start coding games in BASIC on a BBC Micro when he was 10 in 1988.

Two decades later, he became director of studies in computer science at the University of Cambridge's St. John's College and noticed applications to study computer science were in decline, along with the programming skills of incoming students. Upton theorized part of the problem was children no longer had access to relatively simple computers they could experiment with; most computers, phones, and game consoles today are far more powerful and complex than the BBC Micro. This realization inspired Upton to create the Raspberry Pi, an inexpensive circuit board with enough processing power, memory, and connectors to integrate with any number of devices.

Upton originally expected only modest success, viewing selling 10,000 units as a major coup. However, the Raspberry Pi and its variants have sold more than 5 million units and become a go-to tool for students, educators, and hobbyists.

Along with continually improving the Pi and its sister products, Upton and his staff of about 20 people also are focusing on educational initiatives, primarily instructing teachers how to teach computer science through its Picademy initiative.

From IEEE Spectrum
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