As of June of 2015, over five million (and counting) Raspberry Pis have been sold to a new generation of Makers, Hackers, Developers, Tinkerers and Programmers. Already the fastest selling British personal computer, it has also shipped the second largest number of individual units behind Amstrad PCW – AKA the “Personal Computer Word Processor” – which sold a total of eight million during its lifetime.
While the sales numbers are certainly impressive, the fact that all of these computers were sold as single, loose computer boards designed to be hacked into a usable device rather ‘plugged-n-played’ is perhaps the most impressive part.
But while the ability to install the loose board into a custom housing design has been critical for the Pi’s success – it has also been a shortcoming for those who’ve been in need of a reliable case for the Pi in the meantime, whether it’s for testing concepts or creating modular projects. Ultimately, there has never been an official case for the Raspberry Pi … until now.
“Two and a half years ago, I found myself sitting in a car with Eben Upton about three days into my new job at Raspberry Pi,” says Gordon Hollingworth, Director of Software at the company.
“We discussed – among other things – everything we wanted to do with the Raspberry Pi hardware and with the products around the Pi. One of the things we discussed was an official Raspberry Pi case. We thought that it would be great to create something affordable, but with the kind of real beauty and design that our products try to encompass.”
At this point in time, the $35 Raspberry Pi – which was originally designed as a computer science learning tool – had already been deemed a success after having been picked up by the Maker community. From this discussion, Upton and Hollingworth began their search for a design consultancy that was capable of understanding their requirements. After an exhaustive search, they decided upon the award-winning British design firm Kinneir Dufort.
“At Kinneir Dufort we believe in the value and power of collaboration, and work closely with client teams and end users throughout the design process,” said Kinneir Dufort’s design director Craig Wightman. “The current product oozes the personality and enthusiasm of the Raspberry Pi team, so we felt from the start that closely involving them in the design of the case would result in a better product that was true to the ethos of the brand.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
“The end product reflects the integrity of the initial concept and that is really exciting to see.”
Among other manufacturing details requested by the Raspberry Pi team included having the housing manufactured in the UK, which had been a part of their ethos for the original PCB’s from day one.
As for the design of the case itself, it was critical to not only protect the microcomputer, but also allow for immediate hackability with a design that was easy to disassemble time and time again.
“We wanted to design the new case to be as easy to open as a box and in the way it’s constructed, it actually encourages you to get inside to the board, to learn about the electronics, tinker with it and hack with it – we did not want to lock it away.”