Ten years of the Raspberry Pi blog

(Buckle yourselves in: this is a long one.)

I had an email last month from UKScone, a Raspberry Pi user I met ten years ago at a Maker Faire in New York.

“Just had a thought. It’ll be 10 years soon since you setup the blog/forums :) Going to do a blog piece about it?

Damn, I feel old.”

Scone was one of a surprisingly large group of people who’d travelled surprisingly long distances to look at a prototype of this Raspberry Pi thing we’d been writing about. That group of people had coalesced around this blog and the Raspberry Pi forums, which both got set up exactly ten years ago tomorrow.

Back in 2011, we thought that perhaps we might sell a few thousand computers.

As of today, we’ve sold more than 40 million of the things.

We’ve seen some spectacular stuff from our community. Remember the Raspberry Pi drawing machine that ran on hamster power?

We’ve kept every single blog post we’ve ever written up on this site, starting way back in July 2011. Ten years is a long time in internet terms, so you’ll find some dead links in some earlier posts; and this website has undergone a number of total redesigns, so early stuff doesn’t tend to have the pretty thumbnail associated with it to show you what it’s all about. (Our page design didn’t use them back then.) But all the same, for the internet archeologists among you, or those interested in the beginnings of Raspberry Pi, those posts from before we even had hardware are worth flicking through.

The incredible dad who recreated the Apollo mission in his son’s bedroom still makes me feel like an inadequate parent.

When we started doing this, I was a freelance writer and copy-editor, writing for several fragrance industry clients alongside the food and travel businesses I drummed work up for through a blog that worked as a kind of portfolio, alongside a food-trivia Twitter account. Blogs were awfully modern back then – I was one of the top three food bloggers by visitor numbers in the country – and Twitter was not yet a cesspool. Because it was modern. (In short, I was not anything approaching a tech writer, although I was a giant nerd already.) Then, one day in 2011, Eben Upton and David Braben showed Rory Cellan-Jones at the BBC a prototype, his YouTube video about it went viral – and Raspberry Pi found itself suddenly in need of somebody to run social media and press. I thought I’d do it for free for a few months, then hand over to someone else and go back to a life of being paid to eat nice things and go on holidays.

Water Droplet Photography created by Dave Hunt using a $25 Raspberry Pi to make a camera rig that would have cost thousands commercially.

I never went back. Ten years on, Eben and I (who met in the 90s and married a few years before the Raspberry Pi project kicked off in 2009) are still here. Raspberry Pi is now two organisations: Raspberry Pi Trading, where I work, which makes the computers, the magazines, the peripherals and all that good stuff; and the Foundation, which is headed up by Philip Colligan, and which runs all our charitable programs. The Foundation trains teachers, gives hardware to deprived kids, advises on the curriculum, offers training programs for free to everybody, allows children to send their code to space, and much more. I’m immensely proud of what Philip’s built over there: it’s more than we could have imagined when we were raising money by selling keyboard stickers from our kitchen table in 2011. (Before you ask, no, we don’t make them any more.) I still remember the envelope-stuffing paper cuts. Let us know in the comments if you’d like us to start making them again. We’re in a position to pay someone who isn’t me to cut them all out this time.

BeetBox – music employing capacitive touch, root veg and a Pi. I was a professional musician before I went into publishing and PR, and music projects have always hit a very special spot for me.

We’re a big team of photographers, videographers, editors, writers and social media people now, producing all the words, videos and pictures that come out of the organisation: Ashley looks after this blog these days, while I look after the team. One thing I’ve always missed about the early days, when I was doing everything (bad photography, social media, press, PR and all the public-facing writing we produced), has been the ability to talk more publicly about hardware development, hiccups in the very early development, and about how the business behind Raspberry Pi was built. Once Raspberry Pi was actually on the market and we started work on follow-up devices, we had to stop talking about that development work in order to avoid getting hit by the Osborne effect – the social phenomenon where people stop or delay buying a product when they know a newer version is in the works. And blogging was so easy right at the start, when every project was new – at a point when there were only 2000 Raspberry Pis in the world, everything somebody did with one felt special! But there’s still a ton of stuff for us to talk about – so many people are doing so many wonderful things with Raspberry Pi that choosing a subject for the day’s blog is one of the hardest parts of Ashley’s job.

Mike Cook is one of my childhood heroes – I used to save my pocket money for Micro User magazine just to read his hardware column. This project comes from very shortly after the first Pis started arriving in people’s houses. I couldn’t believe it when I realised he was using our hardware to do the things I’d loved reading about as a kid.

We have a big anniversary coming up next year, when it’ll be ten years since we sold the first Raspberry Pi. But we’re having a little, premature celebration here at Pi Towers today, as we congratulate ourselves on having kept this stream of news going for ten whole years.

Saved my all-time favourite for last. This paludarium simulating an Amazonian rainforest, complete with weather effects, is one of the most beautiful projects we’ve ever covered.

36 comments
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Thank you, Liz, for your early Pi blogging, because IMHO your blog was a major contributor to the success of the Pi. Such fun to read! And so inspiring!

Reply to Tim Elliot

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Awk – thank you!

Reply to Liz Upton

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10 years sounds like a long time ago. Seeing that little usb stick-sized computer with a camera mounted to it on the BBC really got me fascinated, and the plain HTML website at the beginning was so humble. Good to see things are stronger than ever a decade later.

Reply to jabarri

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Happy Blogday! The RPi team have published some great blogs.
P.S. The wiki link for the Osborne effect seems to be missing a “t”.

Reply to Will

Ashley Whittaker

Fixed it! πŸ‘

Reply to Ashley Whittaker

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Is it really 10 years? I can remember me an my colleagues getting interested and then that morning getting up early to get one of the first batch.

Now, Pi 400 is my main computer and development machine. Absolutely amazing. Really looking forwards to what will appear in the next 10 years.

Reply to Anders

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We’ve another few months until the tenth anniversary of that particular sleepless night – I’m hoping we can do something special to celebrate!

Reply to Liz Upton

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I still have that original Model B first China batch. I will have it up and running on the 10th Anniversary.

Reply to Anders

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Well… The OBVIOUS way to celebrate would be to launch a new product…

Reply to W. H. Heydt

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I think I speak for many of us when I say:
1) Congratulations! It’s been a wild and impressive ride, and you’ve all accomplished so much
2) Damn, I feel old.

Reply to Tom W

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What an amazing time it’s been.
The blog has been a major part of the community providing us with information about the direction of the Raspberry Pi and showing off some of the amazing projects that have been made.
The Raspberry Pi and the projects have improved greatly since the first launch. I look forward to seeing what it will be like in 10 years time.

Reply to Stewart Watkiss

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Thanks Stewart! You, Amelia and Oliver were there right at the beginning – I still remember that Bee Box with great fondness! (What are they up to now? They must both be in their teens, a fact which I am finding quietly horrifying.)

Reply to Liz Upton

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Congratulations from Mexico, best regards !!

Reply to Miguel Estrada

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Congratulations and thank you for everything you did to keep us in the community up to date on what was happening with the Raspberry Pi.

Had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing you for The Pi Podcast back in 2016.

https://thepipodcast.com/the-pi-podcast-17-liz-upton

Reply to Albert

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Great to see a blog post from you, Liz. That’s the problem with the expansion of the organization and your management position…not enough blogs from you.
It’ll be interesting to see what you have to say in another 10 years (by which time, I’ll be solidly over 80.)
I trust you, and Eben, and daughter are all doing well.

Reply to W. H. Heydt

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We’re actually me, Eben, daughter and son now – I had another baby last year (in darkest lockdown)! Ten years, two kids, and 40m Raspberry Pis. Can’t be bad!

Reply to Liz Upton

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Congratulations! That’s a reasonable excuse not to be writing very many blogs.

Reply to W. H. Heydt

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Ha – thanks Hal!

Reply to Liz Upton

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” … selling keyboard stickers from our kitchen table in 2011. (Before you ask, no, we don’t make them any more.) ” – I’ve still got one stuck on the back of my car. Would it have any value, despite losing all its colour in the sun (the sticker, not the car)?

Reply to Andy suter

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Wow 10 years?
I’ve been here since the beginimg, though I didnt get one of the first batch. I have about 10 now with various accessories. Still love the tech.
Best wishes for the next 10 years.

Reply to Tony Moore

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Wow! What a journey. My first Pi was a B+, at Christmas 2014 – right before the 2 was released, which slightly upset me at the time πŸ˜‚. I also remember fondly the last big Pi birthday party – for the 5th birthday. Since that first Pi, I’ve had 5 more (2x0W, 3B+, 3A+, 4 4GB) and it’s really what inspired me to get into computing and technology in general. Thank you, and I look forward to the next ten years!

Reply to tramcrazy

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I know you…! Fancy seeing you here
Yeah, the 5th Birthday party was sooo fun; had a great time there!

Reply to James Livesey

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Hi Liz,
Your work on the blog has been a vital part of the Pi’s success. The Pi has done superbly well because it’s a great family of products with an incredibly creative and constructive community.
You built that community.

Reply to Romilly Cocking

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You gotta have stickers.. Seriously !!!
How about a 2040 powered one
On a serious note. What you have done with the Pi has opened up so many avenues for folks, myself included.
Having used these devices in everything from cyber security projects to E-signage and many others. In what i have seen personally they certainly achieved the goal of getting kids involved and engaged in tech, and deep and very rich ways.
Full on congrats for the first 10 years, and here’s to the next.

Reply to Robert Alderton

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Wow, I remember finding out about the Raspberry Pi about 8-9 years ago! (I joined the family a bit late with my Pi 3 in 2017, though.) Congratulations on making it so far! Here’s to the next 10!

Reply to MishterKirby

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Congratulations from the great state of Texas!
After nearly 60 years wrestling with computers, it is still marvelous to see the creativity, enthusiasm and dedication of the Raspberry Pi team working to teach the rest of the world how to compute. We have a small but dedicated Raspberry Pi user group here in Houston, meeting only on Zoom due to the pandemic. There is much to be done here to build a robust and widely accessible IT education program for the public, and especially for the schools. As pandemic restrictions ease, we hope to redouble our efforts, as well as to resume meeting in person. Thanks to all your staff for your remarkable achievements!

Reply to Stuart Andrew Jones

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Wow, how quickly time flies! I love the mix of fantastic products (I still love the Pi0W, such an amazing, compact all in one board) and brilliant educational materials too (blown away by the quality of documentation on the Pi 400). Here’s to the next decade, can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Reply to Alan Robertson

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Well Liz, 10 years is not as long as it used to be ;)

Reply to Mike Cook

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Tell me about it. This entropy business is a real aggravation.

Reply to Liz Upton

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Outstanding work Liz. Great to read about the early days and congratulations on the success!

Reply to Rob

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Liz,
IMHO you provided the escape velocity that meant the project got off the ground. It is a real success but could have so easily faltered in the early days.
Always hard to have list of heroes on a project like this, where do you stop? But you would be near the top of mine.
Well done to you and the team for making it a success.
10 years…..

Reply to DukeOfTarporley

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I blush! Thank you so much; that’s a lovely thing to say.

Reply to Liz Upton

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Ten Years Ago??? Wow!
I came to the blog/forums after seeing the Rory Cellan-Jones video and its amazing how things have developed since then. The buzz around this tiny computer was generated by your blog and you deserve the credit for creating the popular demand for it. 40 million Raspberry Pis of all sorts is an amazing achievement. While I now often use a Pi 400, I’ve still got my original Pi, which was one of the first batch of production models. I’ll have to get it out and experience those early days once more!

Reply to Jongoleur

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10 years sounds like a long time ago. So inspiring! Best wishes for the next 10 years.

Reply to Nazare Pinela

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Congratulations. Having my Blog now for about 1,5 half year and know how much work this is. 10 Years, Respect.

Reply to Protoncode Tech Blog

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Hi, Raspberry pi!
Have you guys thought about collaboration with the box86 project? It would have solved a whole bunch of problems from when I was using a pi as a daily driver.
Thank you so much for all the work you do.

Reply to Jordan Helzer

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