Raspberry Pi too tasty as huge demand crashes sites

Adam Parris-Long

Demand for a new miniature computer designed to interest children in coding sent the websites selling the product crashing earlier today - just hours after it went on sale.

The Raspberry Pi – which costs just £22 - is being hailed as a revolutionary new device that could create a new generation of programmers.

It is a rudimentary open circuit board that, once connected to a monitor, mouse and keyboard, works as a conventional computer.

The operating system includes a version of entry-level computer language program “Scratch”, which was originally devised at the world renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Using this, Pi is designed to get children into computing coding, a trend that was sparked by the BBC Micro and Sinclair Spectrum in the 1980s.

All proceeds from the project are going to charity as the circuitboard was created by volunteers headed by computer technician Eben Upton.

It triggered so much excitement that two websites selling the Pi crashed this morning. The websites of component companies RS and Premier Farnell were unable to cope with demand – although the sites appeared to be back up and running by midday. But the official Raspberry Pi website had to revert to a static site as high traffic levels overwhelmed it.

“We didn't realise how successful this was going to be,” said Mr Upton. “This means we can scale to volume. Now we can concentrate on teaching people to programme.”

“The £22 model on sale today [Wednesday] is actually the pricier version of Raspberry Pi - a stripped-down £16 model will go on sale later this year.”  

The circuitboard can be plugged into older analogue television sets as well as digital counterparts and it harnesses power from mobile phone chargers.

Once the setup is complete users can boot up the open-source Linux operating system included on the inserted SD card. The Pi also contains an Ethernet port, allowing it to connect to the internet.