Eben Upton

Courtesy: Eben Upton
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Like many children of 1980s Britain, Eben Upton learned to program on a BBC Microcomputer—a hands-on machine that was widely available in schools and proved a valuable introduction to his future career. Yet by 2006 he and colleagues at Cambridge, where Upton completed his Ph.D., had noticed a steep drop-off in applicants to the computer sciences program. Trying to come up with a solution led to Raspberry Pi: a $25 card-size computer that plugs into a TV screen and comes with a bevy of programming materials to spark kids’ interest. Upton and his friends thought they might sell 10,000; through their foundation, they have sold more than 3 million worldwide, particularly in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. It’s an empowering tool for children who are self-directed learners, says Upton. For kids who aren’t traditionally academic, he adds, computer programming “can be a ladder into a white-collar career.”