8 months ago

Sales soar and Raspberry Pi beats Commodore 64

Raspberry Pi becomes third best-selling general purpose computer of all time

Recent Raspberry Pi sales figures show that the humble board is, in fact, the world’s third best-selling general purpose computer.

Raspberry Pi achieved this milestone by selling north of 12.5 million boards in five years. This figure beats the previous third place holder, the Commodore 64.

“The Commodore 64 had, until recently, the distinction of being the third most popular general purpose computing platform,” Eben Upton told a crowd at the fifth birthday party. “That’s what I’m here to celebrate,” he said, “we are now the third most popular general purpose computing platform after the Mac and PC.”

Third place might sound like the bronze medal, but given the astronomical sales of Windows PC and Apple Macintosh, it’s an incredible achievement.

Outselling the Commodore 64 cements Raspberry Pi in the annals of history.

Commodore 64 computer

Source: Wikipedia

Not bad considering the original plan was to produce between 10 and 20,000 boards.

“And we did it together, and it’s kind of wonderful,” said Eben

Eben also revealed that the Pi Zero W sold about 100,000 in its first four days. So it looks seem like the Raspberry Pi computer platforms will keep selling for many years to come.

Raspberry Pi sales percentages: what is the best-selling Raspberry Pi?

Raspberry Pi Sales Chart

The Raspberry Pi Model 3 is the best-selling Raspberry Pi. This chart shows that Raspberry Pi 3 has accounted for almost a third of all Raspberry Pi boards sold.

The Model 3 sits next to its immediate predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 2B+ (which has the same board shape but a slightly slower CPU). These two boards account for over half of all Raspberry Pi boards sold.

The rest of the sales are between older models. The original Model A accounts for just 2 percent of sales. So keep one if you’ve got it as they’re pretty rare.

We should point out, before the Commodore fan club arrives, that there are discrepancies in the total number of sales of the C64. The 12.5 million figure comes from an analysis of serial numbers. This article by Michael Steil explains in detail why the 12.5 million number is accurate. We hold it to be the most accurate analysis of Commodore 64 sales (other opinions are available).

Here on The MagPi, we’re huge fans of Commodore computers. They formed an integral part of our coding childhoods. And it’s easily programmable computers, like the Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum and BBC Micro that provided inspiration for the Raspberry Pi itself.

We can take huge pride that the Raspberry Pi has reignited the fire for home computing and digital making. The boom in home coding was sparked by computers from the 1980s, including the Commodore 64. Here’s to many more years of digital making.

  • Daniel Bull

    This is an awesome achievement but its slightly disingenuous to compare all of the Raspberry Pi models to just a single Commodore model. Commodore is a manufacturer in the same way that Raspberry Pi Trading is a manufacturer. The 64 is just one model in the same way that for example the zero is just one model.

    If you are going to include the Pi0 (32bit), Pi1 (32bit), Pi2 (32 bit) and Pi3 (64 bit) in the same count then it seems only fair to include the 16 (8bit) 64 (8bit) 128 (8bit) and Amiga (16 bit) in the same count.

    There is some argument to be had about “running the same software” although if that’s the case you should at least include all the machines in the same series which were compatible on Commodores side, Eg. the 16, 64 and 128.

    The Pi is awesome on its own we don’t need to be insincere to prove how good it is 😉

  • James Lewis

    I wonder how many of the “compatible”, but not C64 models there actually were… probably better than 90% of what they sold was actually the 64 model, while the Pi has sold a range of different (compatible) boards….

    These comparisons are always a little difficult, since No.2 is the Apple Macintosh, which has included a number of different, incompatible models using different, incompatible operating systems and different, incompatible processors…. but they are all counted as “Apple Macintosh” computers for the purpose of these stats… hence it seems fair to include all the Raspberry Pi models… but then when it comes to Commodore, there’s a strong argument that you would have to include the Amiga, because it’s no more “different” from a C64 than a 68000 OS9 “Macintosh” is from an X86 OS10 “Macintosh”…

  • firstThink

    You could reasonably place the c128 in near relation to the Pi3, and with Napkin Math, C128 sales add +5.7 million,

  • Johann Botha

    And if the Zero weren’t out of stock most of the time it would have sold way, way, way more.

  • chris stagg

    With regard to percentage of model As (i have 2), is that more or less than the percentage of model Bs with fuses?

  • de1337ed

    Since when is Windows PC or Macintosh a PC. That is software. This article doesn’t know the difference between Software and Hardware. Also, why do we include all versions of Pi but only one version of Commodore?

    Sorry, but this article is crap. Former Editor-in-Chief here and I would be embarrassed for whomever let this get past the rough draft and fact checking. Just because this isn’t print journalism doesn’t mean that articles should be churned out with low effort.

  • Daniel Bull

    Apparently the VIC20 (which I missed in my first post) was also software compatible with the 64 and depending on who you ask sold between one and three million.

  • Alpha Tan

    How about total net profit?

  • Teemu Korvenpää

    C64 was same 1mhz computer from 1983-1992.Raspberry is just name for updated pcb+arm cpu..Commodore 64 wins this fight 19-0

  • Will

    This is bullshit. You can’t claim that multiple computers beating out a single computer collectively means they outsold it. For this to accurate you have to take all Commodore models into consideration.

  • Paul Fogarty

    you can’t quote it, I feel. like for like, one of my pi zero is being used a co-pro for a bbc micro, which is great.. with any pi, you are just getting a pcb, nothing more and no way to program is without additions. are these numbers including the free ones giving away with magazines ? is that classed as a “sale” or is the mag classed as the sale ? the numbers being quoted are for the 1 model of c64? not including sx64/c128/c64 mk2 etc. also look at the cost factors of both.. c64 was £200.. you can get a fair few pi’s for that cost.. and todays money it’s the same as £800

  • Mark Hayden

    The VIC20 was NOT software compatible with the C64 any more than the PET was. They had the same CPU, but the memory map was different, the video hardware was different, the sound was different and kernel was different and so on. The two machines had some common hardware (same keyboard, same peripherals etc) and BASIC was identical, but only if you used PURE BASIC without peeks, pokes system calls etc. The VIC20 and C64 were even more different from each other than the Pi 3 and Zero are.

    But the stats should compare all the raspberries with all the C64 derivatives to be more accurate. That would include the MAX Machine, C64, C64sx, Educator64, C64c, C128 and C128d.

    The PETs, VIC20, B / P series and TED machines (C16 and plus/4) share some commonalities and the same compatible MSBASIC syntax, but they make up four additional 8-bit platforms.

    It isn’t like Atari which had one 8-bit computer platform that evolved (and 3 8-bit game console platforms, one of which was a variant of the computer platform but that’s another story). Commodore inexplicably multiplied platforms despite sharing some components between all of them.

  • Mark Hayden

    Commodore produced no less than FIVE different, incompatible 8-bit platforms. So you cannot consider all of them as one as you can with the Pi. See my earlier comment on the models that are part of the C64/128 platform. Only the C64, 64c and 128 sold in really significant numbers anyways, so I expect that it won’t take long for the Pi platform to truly surpass the C64 platform.

  • Bobby Rubon

    I’m a big fan of rPi, but c’mon, this is just a click-bait, disingenuous at best, and an outright lie at worst. Comparing a single model personal computer that would cost an equivalent of $1,500 today to ALL models of a $20-30 little ARM board?

    I’d like to see a retraction and an apology. C64 is called the best-selling computer of all time for a reason.

  • visomvet

    If you had sold the exact same hardware model of the Pi in larger numbers, this would apply. Counting different models as one is not a fair comparison. Better luck next time. 🙂

  • The 12.5 million Commodore 64 sales are from serial number analysis of 16 separate PCB boards. Including lesser known models like the C64GS. Not just a single model.

    A person can load a single SD Card with Raspbian + PIXEL and run it on every single model of Raspberry Pi (even the original Model A). So it’s clearly one computer platform, if not a single type of board. Then again, neither was the C64.

    One big difference is that the Raspberry Pi boards are visibly different because they’re not sold sealed inside a case.

    The Amiga and C64 are clearly different platforms. There is no crossover of software or OS.

    The backwards compatible Commodore 128 with its extra 3-5 millions sales though … there’s a case to be made there 😉

  • hayesmaker

    C64 > PI

  • Bobby Rubon

    The true achievement of Commodore 64 is precisely that a SINGLE MODEL sold more than any other model, especially at a time when personal electronics was a new idea.

    Platform is meaningless in this discussion since it is obvious that any platform worth anything, given enough time, will outsell a platform that’s long dead.

  • Cary Serack

    uhhh… no it was not compatible.

    My Family had no less than 4 Vic 20’s and 2 or 3 C64’s and 2 C128’s.

    While there is compatibility between the C64 and the C128. there is no application or OS compatibility between the Vic20 and C64.

  • nullcodes

    LOL at the C64 fans. Chill out, it’s not that big of a deal. Also, what are number 1 and 2 in terms of sales?

  • Michael Zuurman

    Clickbait. The story is utter nonsense. Comparing apples with pears. A Pi is just a board of no use without other peripherals and hardware, and no context. A C64 or any other 8-bit platform like the ZX Spectrum was a fully operational personal computer, ready to go, with context. Get your facts right. It’s just a mobo, that Pi of yours. Get over it, don’t make it anything it isn’t.

  • I know it’s not general purpose, but didn’t the iPhone sell 1B units? Two orders of magnitude more.

  • James Lewis

    Certainly those stats include all Macintosh models and most of those are incompatible… OS9 has no connection to OS10, and they had 68000, PowerPC and X86 architectures to name a few…

  • Paul Fogarty

    “Only the C64, 64c and 128 sold in really significant numbers anyways,” err NO I think you’ll find it was the original breadbin that sold more.. why ? due to people going off to ST / Amiga land.. the c128 is a far less common machine also, used for dev / business due to cpm.. and it cost far more at the time. look at when the PEAK was when the original breadbin was out.. not the later machines.

  • Mark Hayden

    It is all relative. Compared to the classic C64 brown breadbox the 64c and 128 were not big sellers, but those successors in the platform still sold much better than most other specific models of 8 bit micro, either within Commodore or outside. Compared to any single PET/CBM, or even the combined total of TED machines, those models are quite common.

    They made something close to 6 MILLION C 128 machines, so you can’t call it a failure, and at least a third of 64s that sold were of the 64c design. So I have to disagree with your disagreement that they didn’t sell in significant numbers and so are part of the debate of what constitutes a single model of computer.

  • Blapidoup

    “we are now the third most popular general purpose computing platform after the Mac and PC.”
    That’s a *very* bad and confusing wording since Commodores and Macs are PCs too. What you should have say maybe is something like :
    “we are now the third most popular general purpose computing platform after the PowerPC and compatible PC.”

  • Blapidoup

    Then what is this first one that we are talking about? And which model of Mac?
    They are talking about the platform and they said it loud and clear.

  • Shirley Marquez Dulcey

    There was never a single break point in the Macintosh chain. Newer versions of classic Mac OS came along and the oldest systems couldn’t run them, but the new systems would still run the oldest programs. Then there was a big break with the introduction of OS X, but for a while those systems would also run the older OS 9 software. There were also the processor transitions: 680×0 to PowerPC to x86_64, but each was followed by a period when the OS included compatibility software for the previous processor.

    It’s true that a current Mac is utterly incompatible with an original beige toaster; there are no programs that can be run on both unless you run a full emulator (from a third party; it’s not part of the OS or even available from Apple at all) on the new Mac. But there isn’t a clear point where you can say it’s no longer logical to consider before and after to be different machines.

    Commodore 16/64/128 and Amiga are another story. They never ran the same software so they are clearly different systems. But I’d count all the numbered ones together. Similarly, all the Atari systems with no letters or XL or XE in their names would count together, but not the Atari ST. And the Apple II and /// are different systems than the Macintosh.

  • Shirley Marquez Dulcey

    Partly it’s because Commodore started at a lower point. The VIC-20 and the PET did not have adequate hardware capability for the kinds of gaming that were popular on the C64, so the latter had to have new and incompatible hardware for sound and video. Atari had that stuff from the start, even in the lowly 400, so they were able to stay with the same design.

  • James Lewis

    Each generation of Mac was “utterly incompatible” with the previous generation, except by using some form of emulator… the hardware architecture was totally different, using a different CPU, with different instruction set and architecture… I submit that does not count, otherwise we could enter into a ridiculous discussion about almost any of these early computers being emulated on later hardware.

    Not so ridiculous tho, is the Commodore story, where the Vic20, Plus/4 and Commodore 16 were all compatible… and the C64 and C128 which were compatible via the C128’s “C64 mode”… and then the Amiga for which Apple sold an optional “A64” module allowing compatibility with the C64 software…

    Even the Vic20, C16 & Plus/4 were partially compatible with the C64, using largely the same architecture, certainly there was some software that would run on both…. this seems to be far more “compatible” than the Macintosh family, given that compatibility between each of the 3 generations was either native, or offered in hardware… while compatibility between macintosh versions was provided by entirely emulating the previous model in software!

  • James Lewis

    Also… none of this detracts from the RPi’s achievement… but this revisionist attitude to historical computing is not necessary.

  • Panthros

    Try counting one type of Raspberry Pi versus the Commodore 64 and I think there would be less celebration. This seems very disingenuous to the Commodore 64. Trying to celebrate when there is no need to. Way to fudge the numbers!

  • Andi Brandmair

    If you compare different types of Raspberry Hardware that is same sort of something (v1, v2…) with the Commodore 64 range you MUST also count C128s, C16s/+4/116s, C65s, CBM 4064s and SX64s…
    And if you now start bulling around , then reminder: C128, SX64, C65, CBM 4064 are all 100% C64. Good journalism needs 100% research before.

  • Admiral Benbow

    Comparing Apples with Raspberries?

  • Admiral Benbow

    No. C64 wasn’t ready to go out of the box. You had to have a TV as well 🙂

  • thanks Lucy

    I agree with you!

  • Apparently the VIC20 (which I missed in my first post) was also software compatible with the 64 and depending on who you ask sold between one and three million.

  • Recent Raspberry Pi sales figures show that the humble board is, in fact, the world’s third best-selling general purpose computer.

  • Which is best? RaspberryPi or OrangePi ?

  • How about total net profit?

  • We must be colour-blind.

  • The Commodore 64 is arguably the easiest to use programmable computer that has ever been made. Like the PET and VIC-20 before it, the 64 booted to a friendly screen with the Commodore Basic Operating System ready and waiting for instruction. If writing your own programs was daunting, and loading software from cassettes or floppies was ‘just too much’ for you, you could just jam a cartridge in the back of the unit and like magic your machine was doing whatever you wanted it to.

  • “Need suggestion between Rasberry or Orange”.?

  • Good point.