Physics World has a pair of articles on Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation. One is an interview about the growing role that Raspberry Pi computers has in industrial activities [pugpig.com] and the other concentrates on his background, which was originally in physics [pugpig.com].
From the interview on the Raspberry Pi in industrial settings:
I’m seeing an increasing focus on communications, making it easier for computers to interact with the real world. There isn’t so much excitement anymore in doing lots and lots of maths really fast on one computer in isolation, and we actually see this on the educational side of our business.
When we built the first Raspberry Pi, I didn’t want to put input-output pins on it, because I thought kids would be interested in using them to write programs. Of course, what children actually love doing with Raspberry Pi is interacting with the real world, building weather stations and robot controllers and things like that. And maybe that was a harbinger of things to come, or the kids were attuned to the zeitgeist more than we were. The kinds of things they were interested in then are the things we’re all interested in now, which is working out what problems computers can solve for you. And now that the era of free returns is coming to an end, I think we can broaden that question out a little bit.
From the article about his start in physics:
I’d been a computer programmer since I was a kid and, on some level, the Raspberry Pi is an attempt to recreate the positive aspects of how people like me learned computing back in the 1980s. I had a BBC Micro computer at school and at home, and a Commodore Amiga at home as well, so I had access to all these programmable machines starting from when I was about 10.
In my postgraduate work, I drifted into working purely on software, designing compilers and programming tools, but I probably went too far in the abstract direction. The place where I’ve ended up is closer to silicon engineering or electrical engineering. The former is kind of a software job these days, now that human beings aren’t drawing polygons that turn into bits of masks on silicon chips anymore. Instead, they’re writing descriptions of the chip’s behaviour in high-level languages and leaving the rest up to the tools they’ve developed. But there’s also an aspect of hands-on work in what I do – the actual grungy bit of getting a PCB [printed circuit board] and stapling stuff down on it to make a physical product you can sell. After a period of oscillation, I guess I ended up somewhere that’s right for me.
Earlier on SN:
Raspberry Pi 4 Model B Launched [soylentnews.org]
Raspberry Pi Opens First High Street Store in Cambridge [soylentnews.org]
Raspberry Pi Foundation Announces RISC-V Foundation Membership [soylentnews.org]