No one can deny that it has been the Year of the Pi.
The Raspberry Pi, the microcomputer which fits into the palm of your hand, is undoubtedly the hottest piece of hardware of 2012. There had been plenty of chatter about the product within the electronics world since the autumn of 2011, but mainstream news first bubbled to the surface in the early days of January, when the charitable Raspberry Pi Foundation announced that the first 10 beta boards had been auctioned on New Year’s Day. One anonymous bidder, sensing the Pi’s importance, donated one of these earliest versions to the Centre for Computing History in Suffolk.
The Pi was designed to offer children a cheap, accessible platform through which to learn about coding and programming. Plugging the Pi into a TV monitor and connecting to a keyboard and mouse means the Pi can still offer the same functionality as a desktop PC. Worldwide distribution followed and by the summer the first boards were finding their way into schools, homes and workshops – although such is the popularity of the £27 product that order fulfilment continues to be an issue.
Over 500,000 units were shipped in the first three months with the one million mark anticipated before Christmas.
By the end of the year demand is still growing, and the Pi has already undergone major development. The original board featured 128MB of RAM, and was upgraded to 256MB before the initial launch. In October it was announced that all units will be shipped with 512MB as standard. While the Foundation has received many requests to release a more powerful unit, it is keen to maintain its low price point policy.
However, that has not stopped applications and enhancements being prototyped by Pi superfans and users around the world. Already the Pi has been used to photograph the Earth from 25 miles up, and a camera module is in development.
Much recognition has flowed the Foundation’s way, from both consumer and industry sources. Among its awards have included Innovation of the Year at both Stuff and T3 magazine’s respective Gadget Awards, a BASDA Theo von Dort award and an award for skills, training and development from UK trade organisation the National Microelectronics Institute.
These are exciting times indeed. We wonder what 2013 will hold for the Raspberry Pi?