More than five million credit-card sized Raspberry Pi computers have been sold since the product’s launch in 2012, the Raspberry Pi foundation has revealed.
The milestone comes after what have been three triumphant years for the low-cost computing device, which entered the market in February 2012 with a modest 2000 units available.
According to Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Head of Communications Liz Upton, reaching the five million mark in just three years means the device has become the fastest selling British computer in history.
“We still have Sir Alan Sugar to beat on total sales numbers – if you include the PCW word processor in the figures, Amstrad sold 8 million computers between 1984 and 1997,” Upton remarked.
Developed with the vision to help children learn programming skills, Raspberry Pi has also become a hit among hobbyists, hackers and embedded engineers.
The first batch was sold out in minutes with websites of the two sellers of the computer, RS Components and Farnell, crashing due to the enormous amount of traffic.
Launched as a purely charitable project, the Raspberry Pi has not made much money for its inventors though.
“All profits go straight back into our educational mission and into R&D,” Upton explained in her blog. “(The) five million purchases mean that we’re able to train teachers for free, provide free educational resources, undertake educational outreach and fund open-source projects.”
Available for about £23, the computer sold two million units by November 2013, hit the three-million mark by summer 2014 and reached four million by the end of the same year.
Over the first three years, the foundation issued several upgrades to the unit, including extra memory capacity and additional modules.
Earlier this month, the foundation unveiled the second generation Raspberry Pi, which offers six times more power and twice the memory of the original.
The new unit, which for the first time will be able to run Microsoft’s Windows operating system, sells for the same price as the original.
The foundation expects that although most clients would be likely to want to upgrade to Raspbery Pi 2, some users among embedded software engineers may prefer to stay with the less powerful Raspberry Pi 1.
RS Components suggested the price of the original may eventually go down to make it more attractive. There are currently no plans to phase out the first generation product.