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Adventures In Tech: The making of Raspberry Pi
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Adventures In Tech: The making of Raspberry Pi

4:21 /

Can this plucky microcomputer save the computing industry? Adventures in Tech heads to Raspberry Pi HQ to find out.

How do you build a computer that's the size of a pack of cards and costs just $25? And once you've built it, how do you use it to grow a new generation of programmers? In this special episode of Adventures in Tech, we explore the making of RaspberryPi. [MUSIC] Raspberry Pi is a tiny computing board that's so simplistic, you have to learn basic programming just to turn it on. Geeks love it for it's flexibility, but in fact when the Raspberry Pi foundation built this tiny machine. They were trying to use that user unfriendliness to solve a growing problem in the computer industry. Early computers required a certain level of knowledge to use, but those who did get to grips with them grew up and built better machines. Modern gadgets that were much more accessible. And today you don't need to know anything about how a computer works in order to use one. But if new generations are losing touch with what makes computers tick [MUSIC] How are we going to build better ones? We've come to Cambridge, the spiritual home of computing, to speak with Raspberry Pi inventor, Evan Upton. Very simply, the problem we wanted to solve was, we saw here in Cambridge, at the university, the number of applicants to study computer science, fall from maybe 500 for 80 places in 1995. To roughly 200, 10 years later. And really we were trying to find with Raspberry Pi a way to reverse that decline. So I think the thing is that young programmers learn about computers and what they learn is that a computer is like a metal box that contains a keyboard and a mouse and a display and a battery and lots of software and stuff. What we teach them is that actually you know this is a, this is a computer. Concepts of the basic machines for learning was there as early as 2006. Protoypes were built, but ultimately it was in 2010, with the arrival of the micro DB developed at Broadcom that Evan became convinced the Raspberry Pi was viable. Several years of hard work later, the first Pi was ready to come out of the oven. The Raspberry Pi model b went on sale in February 2012 and it packs a surprising amount of power into its tiny form. At the center of the first Pi was a 700 megahertz processor, backed up by 256 meg of RAM. It didn't even come with any kind of casing but could run an operating system [MUSIC] Pop an SD card. And sported several crucial outputs. Including a headphone jack, USB, ethernet, and HDMI. Raspberry Pi was an immediate hit. Plenty of media attention turned into sales. And within a year, a million boards had been sold. With the itsy bitsy microcomputer becoming a fixture of tech culture. Geeky types found a cheap way to make their own media centers. While even geekier types dreamed up weird and wonderful applications for the pi. Such worthy pursuits as making a keyboard out of. To beer cans, opening a garage, a vegetable grow machine, sending it space, controlling robots, building a pet feeder, an arcade cabinet, or a small arcade cabinet. The back to basics nature of the Raspberry Pi has made it a plaything for grownup geeks, but in a world of iPads and Xboxes, how do you enchant the younger crowd? According to the foundation's education mastermind, it's the crudity of the Pi that makes it such a powerful teaching tool [MUSIC] A cape doesn't come so that when you turn it on straight away it works first time. It's not in a fancy case. It doesn't work by magic. These are really important points and what actually makes [INAUDIBLE] a great tool for learning with. Putting on a desk in front of children and they see that. They ask questions and for any teacher that when you know your children are engaged. The foundation is making inroads with education. Google bought 15,000 Raspberry Pis for UK schools, while communities around the world have come together in Raspberry Jams to get to grips with the Pi. The foundation also runs Picademy classes which train teachers on how the hardware can be used in the classroom. We have started to see adoption among children. We think that we have about a million of them, of the 3 and a half million we've sold. Over a million of them now are in the hands of children one way or another. But we found now that schools, many schools are picking up and using it and so we're seeing it move from informal learning into formal learning and that's quite exciting for us here at the foundation. What do you think the future holds for young programmers and if you experimented with the Raspberry Pi. Let me know and check back next time, for another adventure in tech.

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.