Great tech innovators: Eben Upton

The man behind the Raspberry Pi micro-computer

  • Age: 37
  • Company: Raspberry Pi (Trading) Limited
  • Best known for: Hardware
  • Quote: "The whole story for Raspberry Pi is what we can squeeze in there? Can we squeeze something interesting enough that it will become a part of a child's life?"

Strapped to a helium balloon, the Raspberry Pi micro-computer soared 40km above the Earth in 2012, transmitting live images throughout the flight.

It's an apt metaphor for the runaway success of the bare-bones computer, which has gone on to sell 5 million units since being devised by Raspberry Pi Founder Eben Upton and a team of computer scientists at the University of Cambridge in 2006.

While working as the Director of Studies in Computer Science at St John's College, University of Cambridge in 2005, Upton and his team became concerned about the declining skill levels and number of applicants wanting to read Computer Science at the university.

Where children who grew up in the late 80s had acquired basic skills to code using machines from that era such as the Amiga, BBC Micro, Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64, the games consoles that followed had seemingly steered the following generation away from learning programming.

Upton, a chip architect at Broadcom by day, saw the declining cost of mobile devices and identified an opportunity to create a small, affordable credit-card sized computer with the multimedia capabilities to make it attractive to young would-be programmers.

As the driving force behind the Raspberry Pi, Upton has championed the micro-computer as a means to not only improve young people's computer science skills, but also those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

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