Today, manufacturers of the British-made Raspberry Pi computer announced that it has hit a million in sales for those units fully made in the UK. This is something of a breakthrough moment for British computing; at first the tiny computers were made in China, so it wasn't something we could completely call our own.
Now, the educational computer is made in Sony's Pencoed factory in South Wales. Sony helped this to come about. The advantages of having the Pi manufactured in China are obvious, it's all about the money. However, with a machinery investment helped along by Sony, it was decided that it could be made to work, especially once you factor in how much it's costing to oversee operations in China and then ship to the rest of the world.
The rest, as they say, is history and now up 12,000 units are manufactured per day and Pi is being exported all around the globe. This means that the Pi is now looking like it could be the next big thing for the computer industry in the UK and according to the BBC, the computer is likely to be the best-selling computer device made and manufactured in the UK since the 1980s.
The 80s gave us mainstream computers, with machines such as the ZX Spectrum and the Sinclair QL becoming popular for the first time. It was the time when computing as we know it today was born in the eyes of the consumer.
Whilst these machines were often used for gaming, and many will remember the agony of loading a tape only to have it crash just before loading, they were also used to learn programming and as business machines, but the former somehow got a little lost along the way.
Enter the Raspberry Pi. In an industry struggling to find new talent, especially with regard to programming, the small computer was a welcome sight to many industry insiders. Kids hadn't been taught computer science at school for a long time, but instead IT qualifications that were more about applications than the inner working of a computer and writing your own software.
"I remember being told this was an unsaleable product," said EbenUpton , founder of Pi. "But we've already surpassed the sales of the BBC Micro - my childhood computer. There was a latent need for something like this."
Whilst the Pi is yet to take off properly in the classroom, it's surly only a matter of time, as children are now being taught different when it comes to computers and the curriculum is changing to reflect that. This is something that I've seen on a personal level, as one of my own children is taking the brand new GCSE computer science class and is already using Python for programming a few weeks into the new school year.
Hopefully, the Pi will go some way to helping to address the talent shortage and the UK can become more competitive in the computer manufacture and related industries. Of course, in order to achieve this, we need teachers that are capable of using the Pi themselves and it's feared that in this department, we're lacking.
However, it's not just about the teachers, we need to get kids interested too. We need to get them off consoles and into making software, no simple task.