The Pi Store opens

Raspberry Pi

Another landmark today for what must be one of 2012's most successful new technology products, the Raspberry Pi. You've seen Apple's App Store, Google Play and Amazon and Windows online shops for apps? Well, now there is a Pi Store.

The people behind the ultra-cheap computer have decided to harness all that geek enthusiasm sparked since the Raspberry Pi's launch in February and create a one-stop shop where anyone can share games, applications and tools developed for the computer.

Eben Upton, the former Cambridge computing academic who came up with the idea for an affordable device that would encourage a new generation to get coding, has just blogged about the new store. He says he hopes it "will provide young people with a way to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to make a little pocket money along the way".

If that does happen, it will also provide useful evidence that the Raspberry Pi is reaching the audience at which it was originally targeted. Interest in the device has far exceeded expectations - the team thought originally that they might get 10,000 out this year, but I'm told more than 750,000 are now in the hands of users around the world. One user has compiled a map charting the Pi's global spread.

But my suspicion is that the main buyers so far have been 40-somethings who look back with nostalgia to their teenage years messing about with a BBC Micro or a ZX Spectrum. When I spoke to Mr Upton this morning, he confirmed that this was pretty accurate - "there's a strong bias towards adults who are computer literate" - but said that was changing a bit.

"Schools that are lucky enough to have an enthusiastic ICT teacher - or even a physics teacher - have been getting them."

But he accepts that the Raspberry Pi foundation, having successfully launched the hardware, now needs to focus on its original educational objective. The uncased device and the lack of much educational support is intimidating for teachers who are not particularly techie.

There are big plans to change that in 2013. "The intent is to have something that can go into a generic classroom environment," he said.

By the time Raspberry Pi celebrates its first anniversary at the end of February, more than a million will have been sold - an amazing achievement for what has been a shoestring operation dependent on voluntary efforts and the enthusiasm of the community. The next step is to build a more professional organisation which can fulfil the original vision - to transform the way children use and understand computers.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Technology correspondent Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    The technical arguments about the Pi missing the mark are somewhat missing the point. Like so much in life, this is largely about packaging, spin and hype. I sense thats whats particularly frustrating to some of the purists on here: but take the pragmatic view - it's leading in the right direction, and opening the door to some people young and old. You can't be negative about that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    @136 Aidy

    Nice to see you have moved on from Lesson 1 (cut and paste). Well done!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    93. Phil Glanville
    Amazed anyone can say a bad thing the Raspberry Pi.."

    It's a great thing for a techie hobbyist.

    It just totally misses the mark for educational purposes. Either a PC with a LiveCD (which is 'unbreakable') or something like a PICAXE or BASIC Stamp would be much better for that, depending on what you're trying to teach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    125. Chris
    "Become familiar with datasheets like these, learn to read their language, and you open up a box of delights"

    I didn't say specifically for the Pi... As an AVR enthusiast (C / GNU toolchain) I'd lump that into the same category. Any MCU is also an excellent low level introduction. Just showing computing in action outside of the big beige box will be an eye opening education to some.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    125. Chris
    Become familiar with datasheets like these, learn to read their language, and you open up a box of delights"

    You could buy a PICAXE and accompanying bits for a fiver and build your own computer 'from scratch'. THAT is much more useful for learning the basics.

    Or you could learn Python with a 'LiveCD' if you already have a PC - that'd be much cheaper and easier than a Pi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    135. Eponymous Cowherd
    However, there is a great benefit in understanding what goes on "under the hood". The Pi permits its users to explore and experiment without fear."

    You can't really see what goes on 'under the hood' with a Pi either. It generally runs Linux, and comes with device drivers, so you can see as much of the 'internals' as you can with a PC running Linux.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    @Eponymous Cowherd #135 So now you are saying you can physically break a PC by writing code? lol The argument being made (that you don't understand) is that it matters less if you trash the Pi as you just reflash it to standard, but the equivalent is the same for the PC. If you irrecoverably break the OS (which you can't unless you are aiming to) you can just reinstall, it's just a bit more hassle

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    @133 Chris

    You can, indeed, teach programming on a standard desktop PC, and there are plenty of good and free environments that permit this.

    However, there is a great benefit in understanding what goes on "under the hood". The Pi permits its users to explore and experiment without fear.

    And, no matter how remote the chance, "breaking" a £25 Pi is better than "breaking" a £700 laptop.

  • Comment number 134.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 133.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Aidy is right that most programming can be taught and learned on a standard desktop machine: lets be honest about the 'breaking it' argument, to break an OS installation through code you really have to be trying... or doing something rather special :-) The fear of this is greatly overblown - but if the Pi removes that altogether it can only be a good thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    @130 Aidy

    You stated "please don't trot out the fallacy that you'll "break" the PC by writing code"

    I demonstrated that it was eminently possible to do so.

    Yes, you cannot "break" it in the physical or electronic sense, but you can certainly render it unusable without remedial work, but a computer that does not work as expected is "broken" by any reasonable definition of the word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    @Eponymous Cowherd #128 - maybe you should confine your arguments against things I actually said.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    Hoping we can buy the new Elite:Dangerous for the RPi in 14 months...

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    @121 Aidy
    You can break a Windows box by editing the registry. You can modify the registry in code, ergo you can break a Windows box in code, even using a high-level language like C#. There are many other ways to kill a Windows PC in code, this is just an example.

    Similar applies to the Pi, or other Linux PCs. The thing is, with the Pi, it doesn't matter! Reflash and it lives again!

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    @Aidy 126: If you stop presupposing what I mean, I think you'll find we largely agree. I'm not saying these things can't or shouldn't be done with any PC/OS combination, but you can't deny the barrier of entry to these concepts is a lot lower when its packaged up in a single standardised board with a single datasheet attached. x86 more complex than ARM, BIOS adds complication etc. *Packaging*

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    @Chris #124 - You don't know what you're talking about. The assembly level workings of a PC are well known and well documented. How do you think drivers, compilers, real-time software etc is written? You people believe too much propaganda on the internet and think PCs/Windows are some awful, secret cult and Linux is some wonderous, magical thing that nothing else is like. It's all just 0s and 1s

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    For the curious, here is the all-important documentation for the Raspberry Pi that we have been discussing. Become familiar with datasheets like these, learn to read their language, and you open up a box of delights spanning the worlds of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering:

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    @Aidy 113. I wasn't saying you couldn't (or shouldn't) tinker with a PC at register level. Of course you can do this with any PC. The point is, it is non-trivial due to increased complexity and variability of PC hardware, and the documentation will be very hard if not impossible to find. The Pi is a limited, standard, documented sandbox in which to explore low-level concepts and I/O interfacing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I work in a school as IT support and have to say this would be welcomed by some students.

    I have been running a Build a computer session, it involves the students being given a pile of parts (9 year old recently retired PCs) which they assemble. they then have the opportunity to install Windows.
    then I tried teaching some basic command line programing, most of the kids loved it.


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