Bagaimana Raspberry Pi menjadi komputer Inggris terlaris sepanjang masa

raspberry pi

Pada 2015, Raspberry Pi menjadi komputer Inggris terlaris sepanjang masa.

Awal tahun ini, ia melewati angka 12,5 juta dalam penjualan, mengambil tempat sebagai komputer serba guna dengan penjualan tertinggi ketiga yang pernah dibuat.

Namun, ketika proyek tersebut berjalan, tujuan utamanya bukanlah untuk menjual jutaan unit. Raspberry Pi dipahami sebagai perangkat pendidikan. Popularitasnya yang luar biasa adalah bukti seberapa baik itu dijalankan berdasarkan visi itu.

Hanya dalam waktu lima tahun, perangkat keras berubah dari ide yang menjanjikan menjadi merek yang diakui secara global - dan kita hanya akan melihat efek penuh dari bagaimana hal itu membuat komputasi lebih dapat diakses saat generasi pemrogram berikutnya dewasa dan berkembang.

Untuk melihat bagaimana proyek ini membuahkan hasil, Digital Trends berbicara kepada beberapa orang yang memainkan peran kunci dalam sejarah awalnya.

Biji Raspberry

Eben Upton menganggap BBC Micro bekasnya yang tepercaya sebagai salah satu pembelian terpenting yang pernah dilakukannya. Dia menggunakan sistem ini untuk mempelajari segala hal tentang komputasi, pemrograman dalam bahasa assembly selama masa remajanya. Ketika dia menyelesaikan gelar di bidang fisika dan teknik di Universitas Cambridge, hasrat inilah yang mendorongnya untuk melanjutkan pendidikan lebih lanjut dalam ilmu komputer.

Menjelang akhir kursus PhD-nya, Upton menjadi semakin tertarik pada perangkat keras komputer. Melihat kembali masa mudanya yang mengutak-atik BBC Micro-nya, dia bertanya-tanya apa yang bisa dicapai jika komputer serupa dirancang untuk abad ke-21.

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“Ada semacam dua untaian untuk waktu yang lama; ada untaian saya mencoba membuat perangkat keras murah, dan kemudian ada sedikit kepanikan tentang nomor penerimaan di universitas, ”kenang Upton ketika dia berbicara dengan Digital Trends melalui Skype bulan lalu - 'kepanikannya' disebabkan oleh fakta bahwa pada saat itu, dia adalah direktur studi untuk program ilmu komputer di Universitas Cambridge St. John's College, memberinya kesempatan untuk melihat bagaimana penerimaan siswa gagal untuk mencapai tujuan. “Raspberry Pi adalah dua untaian yang bersatu.”

Butuh beberapa tahun untuk perangkat yang kita kenal sekarang untuk terbentuk. Mulai tahun 2006, Upton mengerjakan berbagai ide di waktu luangnya, di samping studinya dan kemudian, pekerjaan hariannya. Dia menciptakan beberapa generasi perangkat keras yang "digabungkan". Mereka masih dalam kepemilikannya, dan berfungsi penuh, hingga hari ini.

Satu iterasi awal didasarkan pada chip Atmel, yang memiliki RAM setengah megabyte, dan hanya mampu menggerakkan layar dengan resolusi rendah. “Sejauh ini, itu menyenangkan. Ini tidak memiliki tumpukan perangkat lunak yang dikembangkan sepenuhnya di atasnya, tetapi Anda dapat membayangkan bahwa itu akan menjadi seperti BBC Micro atau Amiga - jenis perangkat lunak yang dapat Anda tulis untuknya akan menjadi jenis perangkat lunak yang sama yang akan Anda tulis di […] sebuah Amiga. ”

Upton berhasil mengembangkan versi perangkat keras ini ke titik di mana ia dapat menampilkan animasi bukti kehidupan di monitor. Kemudian, dia dialihkan oleh tanggung jawab lain - terutama, pekerjaan yang dia ambil dengan pembuat chip Broadcom. Keputusannya untuk bergabung dengan perusahaan pada akhirnya akan memainkan peran penting dalam kesuksesan Raspberry Pi, tetapi pertama-tama, itu menghentikan pengembangan di jalurnya.

“Salah satu hal pertama yang saya lihat adalah serangkaian chip yang cukup murah, dan dapat melakukan dengan baik apa yang selama ini saya lakukan dengan cara ad-hoc; mereka dapat menggerakkan layar, mereka memiliki SRAM, mereka memiliki prosesor, ”jelas Upton. “Ketika Anda telah menyatukan sesuatu dengan menyalahgunakan chip yang digunakannya - menemukan cara untuk melakukan hal-hal yang tidak pernah dibayangkan oleh para perancang chip - ketika Anda dihadapkan dengan versi yang tepat, itu seperti menurunkan moral, saya kira. Itu membuat Anda tidak ingin terus-terusan menyalahkan, meretas barang-barang itu. ”

Upton mulai bertanya-tanya apakah chip Broadcom dapat digunakan untuk mewujudkan idenya untuk komputer pendidikan. Dan tidak semua perangkat keras yang ditawarkan perusahaan untuk proyek tersebut, karena beberapa pertemanan di tempat kerja yang dilakukan Eben akan menjadi tulang punggung tim Raspberry Pi.

Tanah Subur

“Saya mulai di Broadcom, saya pikir seminggu sebelum Eben mulai di Broadcom,” kenang Gordon Hollingworth, direktur teknik Raspberry Pi, ketika dia berbicara dengan Digital Trends melalui telepon. “Kami duduk cukup dekat satu sama lain sejak awal, dan kami cocok dengan sangat baik.”

Hollingworth adalah manajer rekayasa perangkat lunak di Broadcom, sementara Upton mengembangkan sistem arsitektur untuk chip perusahaan. “Itu selalu menyenangkan menyaksikan Eben tumbuh dan menjadi orang yang berbeda,” katanya tentang waktu mereka di perusahaan. Gelar MBA yang diperolehnya di Cambridge Judge Business School berkontribusi pada pertumbuhan ini.

Selama studi inilah Upton memutuskan untuk meninjau kembali ide komputer pendidikan. Dia mengingatnya sebagai periode "pekerjaan yang tenang" sambil menyulap tanggung jawabnya di Broadcom dan gelarnya.

“Dia datang dengan sejumlah hal yang berbeda dan acak yang dia buat dengan tangan, atau dengan mengambil beberapa perangkat keras yang kami miliki di Broadcom dan mengubahnya untuk mencoba dan membuatnya menjadi sistem teoritis yang dapat digunakan untuk mengajar pemrograman anak-anak, ”kata Hollingworth.

Salah satu proyek tersebut menggunakan salah satu papan pengembangan Broadcom sebagai fondasi untuk shell Python. Upton mem-porting pustaka MicroPython ke platform eksperimental, memungkinkan perangkat untuk melakukan boot langsung ke lingkungan tempat pengguna dapat menulis kode menggunakan bahasa tersebut.

Karena ini sepenuhnya open-source, memungkinkan siapa saja untuk melakukan hampir semua hal.

“Masalah sebenarnya adalah dengan sesuatu seperti itu, itu menjadi sangat tertutup - semua perangkat lunak sangat tertutup, sangat terbatas,” kata Hollingworth. Raspberry Pi seperti yang kita tahu ini adalah komputer yang sepenuhnya matang, tetapi tetap menggunakan MicroPython akan membuatnya lebih seperti mikrokontroler, seperti halnya Arduino. “Salah satu hal yang lebih penting tentang Raspberry Pi adalah karena ini sepenuhnya open-source, memungkinkan siapa saja untuk melakukan hampir semua hal.”

Eksperimen ini tidak menjalankan Linux, yang berarti bahwa segala sesuatu mulai dari keyboard dan driver kartu SD, hingga editor teksnya, harus ditulis dari awal. Itu tidak akan pernah bisa diproduksi dalam jumlah besar. Namun, itu berkontribusi pada beberapa keputusan yang membuat Raspberry Pi seperti sekarang ini.

Ini menegaskan bahwa menggunakan chip Broadcom menawarkan beberapa keuntungan utama, paling tidak karena Upton dan Hollingworth sangat akrab dengan perangkat keras. Ini juga menyoroti kebutuhan akan chip dengan inti ARM, yang akan memungkinkan perangkat untuk menjalankan Linux. 'Pi' di Raspberry Pi adalah sisa dari saat komputer berbasis di sekitar lingkungan Python, tetapi Upton melihat kembali untuk memperkenalkan dukungan Linux sebagai momen penting untuk proyek tersebut.

“Keputusan untuk membangun komputer Linux, daripada beberapa hal 'khusus' adalah keputusan awal, dan sangat berharga,” kata Upton. Pada tahun 2011, perangkat keras yang akan mendukung Raspberry Pi mulai terbentuk, setidaknya secara konseptual - tetapi masih ada pertanyaan tentang apa yang akan menjadi audiens perangkat semacam itu. Itu dimaksudkan sebagai platform untuk membantu kaum muda mengambil langkah pertama mereka ke dunia pemrograman, tetapi video viral akan meningkatkan pemirsanya secara eksponensial.

Menghasilkan Buah

Karena BBC Micro menjadi inspirasi bagi proyek Raspberry Pi, pada awalnya Upton berharap bisa menjadi penerus resmi. Dia bahkan memesan pertemuan dengan koresponden teknologi BBC, Rory Cellan-Jones, tentang kemungkinan kemitraan.

BBC akhirnya memutuskan untuk tidak mencantumkan namanya pada produk tersebut. Sebaliknya, Cellan-Jones menerbitkan video pertemuannya dengan David Braben - salah satu pendiri Raspberry Pi Foundation dan pengembang game legendaris Inggris - ke YouTube. Tanggapannya sangat besar.

"Itu adalah poin ketika beralih dari sesuatu yang kami kerjakan di antara kami sendiri - mungkin beberapa orang di Cambridge tahu, tetapi itu tidak diketahui secara luas - menjadi semacam fenomena massal," kata Upton. "Itu menjadi fenomena massal selama dua hari di tahun 2011"

Liz Upton, direktur komunikasi untuk Raspberry Pi - dan istri Eben - menggambarkan reaksinya terhadap tanggapan ini sebagai salah satu "kejutan mutlak". Kemudian bekerja sebagai jurnalis, dia diangkat sebagai sukarelawan, membantu mengelola komunitas yang muncul di sekitar proyek.

"Itu benar-benar menyenangkan," kata Eben. “Itu adalah momen 'oh sial'. Anda telah memikirkan ini sebagai hal yang mendidik, dan kemudian tiba-tiba, 600.000 orang telah melihat blog Rory dalam dua hari. "

Kami tiba-tiba menyadari bahwa kami telah berjanji kepada puluhan dan puluhan ribu orang bahwa kami akan membuatkan mereka komputer - seharga $ 25.

"Eben dan saya menonton saat puluhan dan puluhan ribu orang menonton video itu, semacam memberi selamat pada diri kami sendiri," kata Liz. "Lalu kami tiba-tiba menyadari bahwa kami telah berjanji kepada puluhan dan puluhan ribu orang bahwa kami akan membuatkan mereka komputer seharga $ 25."

Itu bukan prestasi kecil. Bahkan dengan pasukan pelanggan potensial - versi beta dari sistem operasi Raspberry Pi diunduh 100.000 kali sebelum perangkat keras tersedia - membuat perangkat pertama tidak akan murah.

“Eben and the other trustees of the Raspberry Pi Foundation put together some money to create the first 10,000 units,” remembered Hollingworth. Liz Upton recalls some long nights sat with her husband at their kitchen table, stuffing stickers into envelopes that would be sent out to supporters at £1 a pop. An initial run of 10,000 seemed more than sufficient. Upton even had half-joking concerns that he would end up with 9,000 unsold Raspberry Pis lingering in his shed.

Instead, a total of 100,000 pre-orders were submitted. It became clear that satisfying demand beyond the initial run would be a problem, so Upton devised a plan that would take the financial burden off the Raspberry Pi Foundation. “The decision to be a licensing company, to license our technology to RS and Farnell, was very important because it reduced those capital constraints for us,” explained Upton.

“Eben got in touch with the guys at RS and Farnell,” said Hollingworth. “These are big distributors and they have loads and loads of money, because that’s all they do: they buy products and they sell them on. The one thing they deal in quite heavily is basically capitalizing these products.”

Upton proposed that the Raspberry Pi Foundation would show RS and Farnell how to manufacture the Raspberry Pi, and set up production at the factory. The Raspberry Pi Foundation would then receive a license fee for every unit sold. Effectively, the manufacturers would be paying the set-up costs, but the Foundation could expect income that grew in line with the success of the product.

“The great thing about this is, we don’t need to raise money, we don’t need to raise capital,” said Hollingworth. “And as we are, at the time, just a charity, we can’t really raise capital. That was one of the big changes that made Raspberry Pi a real thing.”

With this manufacturing model in place, the Raspberry Pi Foundation was well-placed to serve the masses of individuals who had already expressed an interest in the project. “It felt like before Raspberry Pi, there were people out there that wanted Raspberry Pi,” said Upton. “Sometimes you launch a product and you don’t have to educate people about why they want it. You just have to tell them it exists.”

The Raspberry Pi Foundation could have thrived for several years selling the first iteration of the hardware, as single-board computers were still something of a novelty. Yet the continued success of the computer hinged on what would come next.

Cultivated Growth

After a successful launch, Upton and the rest of the Raspberry Pi Foundation set about adjusting everything from the way the hardware was manufactured, to the design of the device itself.

While the licensing agreement that had been established was a major boon for the project, there were soon plans to improve the manufacturing situation further. The first wave of hardware was made in China, a decision that was made purely to attain the all-important $35 price point. However, the Foundation aspired to bring production closer to home.

A manufacturing plant in Pencoed, Wales sat almost unused. It had been constructed using funds from Sony and the Welsh government, and briefly served as a hub for the creation of LG television sets. By 2012, it only served a small number of contracts on top of its primary, niche function of building high-end cameras used by television broadcasters.

“Eben talked to those guys and said, ‘well, wouldn’t it be awesome if we made Raspberry Pis in the U.K.?’” said Hollingworth. “Because that would be the dream, right? To make them here rather than make them in China – not because it’s a terrible thing, making them in China, but because we love the idea of making things in the U.K. There was a time when engineering in the U.K. was something to be proud of, and we got left behind somewhat, in that respect.”

The Foundation also brought on James Adams, a colleague from Broadcom, to redesign the original model of the Raspberry Pi. The follow-up would become known as the Model B+. “There were some obvious issues with the Pi 1,” said Adams when he spoke to Digital Trends. “Nothing that was a particularly big problem, but it was obvious that there were things that needed fixing.”

Adams executed what amounted to a complete redesign, in his words a ‘reimagining.’ The form factor had to be similar, and certain design features like extra USB ports were mandated by the team, but he was given leeway to make decisions like adjusting the position of mounting holes, and reworking where the connectors are placed.

“The big challenge there is that I had to be true to the original design,” Adams reflected. “But also, this one, we were going to make hundreds of thousands before we’d ever launched it. One bug that wasn’t found could have cost the company. If they were returned, that wasn’t something we could ever support. It really was, ‘you have to design this thing right, first time.’”

The Sweeter the Berry

Redesigning the original Raspberry Pi board is one thing. Pushing the hardware forward with every new iteration is another. The device has such a broad range of applications that a new version that’s dramatically different could throw a spanner in the works for many owners.

“We’ve got that form factor now, and it works quite well, we don’t really want to change it – we’re more about evolution rather than revolution,” said Adams. Each generation is similar to the last, so you’re not going to have a problem getting hold of something that will fit in the Raspberry Pi-shaped hole in your product.”

It’s encouraging  […] that we can rebuild the computer industry in a way that’s more representative of society.

The team told me about various implementations of the hardware over the course of our conversations, ranging from custom tech for factories, to cattle-counting devices. If the product’s design suddenly changed dramatically, many owners would be left in the lurch.

That isn’t to say that the Raspberry Pi has grown stale, or that it will never change. Many owners are pushing for new features and functionality, and have been since the very beginning.

“There’s a very simple calculation,” explained Upton. He gave the example of an analogue-to-digital converter, which is frequently raised as the biggest missing feature of the hardware. Arduino, the Pi’s biggest rival, does feature the component. It costs less than 20 cents, but the Raspberry Pi Foundation is reluctant to include it.

“It’s a $35 product that doesn’t have this 10-20 cent component, why not?” said Upton. “The answer is, we don’t believe that many of our customers want them. We have this rule of thumb: suppose you have a 20-cent device that you can add to the build materials, and 10 percent of your customers will use it. You think of it as being a $2 device.”

Raspberry PI 3

The Raspberry Pi is manufactured under very small margins, so even a seemingly trivial addition to the build needs to be scrutinized. “We have that golden figure of $35,” said Hollingworth. “The question really is, what can you fit into $35, and what’s useful? People have said, can’t you have SATA? And can’t you have gigabit Ethernet? Why can’t I have analog inputs? The answer is always, always, always, because you can’t afford it.”

That said, the Raspberry Pi Foundation is always using economies of scale to push down pricing in various areas as its products have become more popular. The result is extra funds that can be used to make each new version compelling.

“There are usually obvious, standout features that people want,” shared Adams. “It’s always nice to have more memory, it’s always nice to have a faster processor, it’s always nice to have better Wi-Fi. A lot of these things are obvious, you know what you’re going to add, you’re just waiting for the tech to enable it at the right price.”

His example was the addition of Wi-Fi between Pi 2 and Pi 3, something that added a huge amount of utility to the device. In a perfect world it would have been there from the outset, but the price of the technology had to be right before it was introduced.

“B+ to Pi 2 was, I think, nine months, and then there was a year until Pi 3, and now we’re having a bigger gap,” said Adams. “It’s largely driven by the technology, what we can do, and what we can get in at the price point. Which is kind of good, right? We don’t want to give out the expectation that we’re gonna have a Pi every year, that forces you into a cycle that you shouldn’t be in, in this kind of world.”

“This is something that Raspberry Pi are quite proud of doing,” Hollingworth agreed. “We’re not like Apple, where your new phone is going to be like three hundred quid more expensive than your old phone. We’re trying to hold our price as much as we possibly can. We think that’s a cool thing.”

Money Tree

Pricing has been an important consideration for the Raspberry Pi project since the very beginning. Eben paid £220 for his BBC Micro, which he described as being “very second-hand.” Adjusted for inflation, that’s around £869 ($1,147) — a ton of money for a young person to invest in a computer, and far out of the reach of most families.

“I was lucky that I came from a family where I had a savings account with a few hundred quid in it,” said Upton. “The barriers were substantial. That probably means that there were people of my generation who would have been amazing computer programmers, who never had the chance to discover that.”

Upton likens it to entire classrooms being given a recorder to see if they have any affinity for playing music. Some might go on to be a concert pianist, or a virtuoso guitar player. The majority might never play a clean note, and never pick up an instrument again. Yet the availability of a cheap and accessible option can find talent that’d otherwise remain undiscovered.

“It’s no coincidence that our cheapest machine is $5, right?” Upton continued. “It’s really important. It would have been easy for us to get cocky or complacent, once we’ve done a $35 computer. But you’ve got to remember that a lot of people don’t have $35 of discretionary money – but most people in the developed world do have $5 of discretionary money.”

The low price point doesn’t just lower the cost of entry; it lowers the cost of screwing up. People that might want to tinker with hardware, rather than concentrate on coding, can experiment without the fear of destroying expensive equipment. It’s difficult to fry a Raspberry Pi, but it’s not impossible. If it happens, the penalty is low, especially if the system in question is a $5 Zero model.

Next Year’s Crop

“It’s not realistic to say, ‘everyone should be a computer programmer,’” said Upton. “I think everyone should have a chance to find out whether they want to be a computer programmer, and that isn’t where we’ve been in the past.”

Even back in the ‘glory days’ of the 1980s computing boom, Eben remembers it being a primarily male pursuit. It wasn’t a matter of young women not being interested, or not having the necessary skills. The activity was simply pigeonholed as soon as it became mainstream. Liz experienced this firsthand.

“I went to an all-girls boarding school, and there really wasn’t much of a science education there at all,” she said. “They tended to diagnose you as being artistic rather than engineering-oriented.”

Liz was fascinated by computers, but she wasn’t given the opportunities to pursue this interest. Her computing lessons were all about typing, so she learned about coding from computer magazines at home. When she was at university, studying law, she spent free time indulging her enthusiasm for engineering – but she had to chase down this experience, rather than being exposed to it by her education.

“There are an awful lot of things that can exclude people from this stuff,” she said. For as long as computing has been a viable career, it’s been easier for men from a privileged background to get involved than anyone else. As of 2017, everyone uses the software and services that programmers build – so for the most effective product, it would follow that the industry itself should be as diverse as its user base.

Liz and Eben had a daughter earlier this year – Liz was still on maternity leave when we spoke over the phone. “We just had our first kid, so this has got more important, rather than less important, over time,” Eben told me.

Eben made it clear that becoming a father has reinforced his belief in the importance of giving young people access to computers. Today, 40 percent of the attendees of the Code Club events supported by the Raspberry Pi Foundation are female. That’s good news for everyone involved with the organization.

“I think there are some really encouraging signs – and as the father of a daughter, it’s become particularly, personally important to me over the last few months – that we can rebuild the computer industry in a way that’s much more representative of society,” said Upton. “That’s not just gender. That’s race, and class.”

Eben memahami Raspberry Pi sebagai sarana untuk merangsang penerimaan ke kursus ilmu komputer di salah satu universitas. Dalam lima tahun, ini memberi ratusan ribu orang di seluruh dunia cara untuk bereksperimen dengan komputer dan pemrograman. Parameter proyek telah berkembang dengan audiensnya, dan tidak ada tanda-tanda akan berakhir.

“Ketika saya memulai ini, jika Anda memberi tahu saya bahwa kita akan kembali ke tempat kita berada di tahun 1980-an, saya pasti sudah melewati bulan,” Upton merenung. “Saya pikir dalam banyak hal kita sudah melewati masa 1980-an, dalam hal tingkat partisipasi. Sekarang menjadi tentang, apa yang dapat kita lakukan secara internasional? Bisakah kita melakukan ini di negara berkembang? Bisakah kita memastikan bahwa kita mendapatkan cukup banyak gadis? Bisakah kita memastikan bahwa kita melewati tahun 1980-an? Itu berkembang. Kami menjadi lebih ambisius seiring berjalannya waktu. "