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Raspberry Pi Becomes Third Best-Selling General Purpose Computer of All Time, Beating Commodore 64 (raspberrypi.org) 145

The Raspberry Pi has outsold the Commodore 64 by selling north of 12.5 million boards in five years, becoming the world's third best-selling general purpose computer. "The Commodore 64, had, until recently, the distinction of being the third most popular general purpose computing platform," Eben Upton told a crowd at the fifth birthday party. "That's what I'm here to celebrate," he said, "we are now the third most popular general purpose computing platform after the Mac and PC." The MagPi Magazine reports: The Raspberry Pi Model 3 is the best-selling Raspberry Pi. This chart shows that Raspberry Pi 3 has accounted for almost a third of all Raspberry Pi boards sold. The Model 3 sits next to its immediate predecessor, the Raspberry Pi 2B+ (which has the same board shape but a slightly slower CPU). These two boards account for over half of all Raspberry Pi boards sold. The rest of the sales are between older models. The original Model A accounts for just 2 percent of sales. So keep one if you've got it as they're pretty rare. We should point out, before the Commodore fan club arrives, that there are discrepancies in the total number of sales of the C64. The 12.5 million figure comes from an analysis of serial numbers. This article by Michael Steil explains in detail why the 12.5 million number is accurate. We hold it to be the most accurate analysis of Commodore 64 sales (other opinions are available).
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Raspberry Pi Becomes Third Best-Selling General Purpose Computer of All Time, Beating Commodore 64

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  • Say it ain't so!!

    • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:12PM (#54063189) Journal

      These numbers are crazy. They're probably counting sales and not use.

      Surely, most Pi's are just used as cheap C64 emulation machines, letting the C64 continue to reign supreme. (Those not being used as a replacement C64 are all obviously just collecting dust in a drawer.)

      • by dwywit ( 1109409 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @02:10AM (#54064119)

        I get the joke, but mine is a very effective headless, X-less torrent client and media server. It streams internet radio into the home stereo, and without the buffering issues that Windows machines seem to have. I can add a Linux ISO to the torrent queue and forget about it until I actually want to try it out.

        Both of which could be handled by an old laptop running Windows or Debian, of course, but not for the price and energy consumption of the Pi.

      • They're probably counting sales and not use.

        I can confirm. I have:
        * 3x Raspberry Pi 1 Model B
        * 1x Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
        * 1x Raspberry Pi 2
        * 2x Raspberry Pi 3
        * 2x Raspberry Pi Zero

        Out of these 10, I am using 2. I have one in an actual project and one running as a server because I had an extra static IP and couldn't think of anything useful to do with it.

        • So that just confirms that 9 of them were sold to a tinkere without a plan, nothing more.

          Personally I have 2 Pi 2s and 1 Pi 3. All in active use.

          • I don't think my case is all that unusual. I think there are a lot of Pi's collecting dust these days.

            The audio output left a lot to be desired, and the codec hats were rather pricey. So that killed off one of the projects I had in mind.

            The 3x Pi1's were for a Plan 9 cluster. But the buggy usb support on Plan 9 kept taking out the whole system and I was too busy with my day job to do more than hack a way around it. The results were not great and I was never able to move from Plan 9 to Inferno (which was the

      • They also make excellent Acorn emulators along with RiscOS.
      • These numbers are crazy. They're probably counting sales and not use.

        Do you have anything to base that wild assumption on, apart from the phrase "Best-Selling" in the headline?

    • It ain't so.

      They're mixing the different Raspberry Pi models together as one thing, and then counting all the 80386 or 8052 computers as different. It may even be that it is such apples/oranges that it is impossible to do an honest "head to head" type comparison, considering those types of differences in what is being measured. It may be that they would have to count all the "Intel Pentium" computers as one to count all the Raspberry Pi computers as the same, or maybe everything that Gateway or Dell ever so

  • If the Raspberry Pi is the second most popular computer (dubious claim considering that there are several models of it), and the Commodore 64 is the third most popular computer, what is considered to be the most popular computer of all time? My hunch would be the Apple II, but I wouldn't be surprised if iMac was on the top 5 list.

  • by mykepredko ( 40154 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:06PM (#54063163) Homepage

    It seems like a bit of a stretch to call it that. There are the basic features I would consider a "General Purpose" computer to have (and, to be fair, the Raspberry Pi has many of them):
    - Wall (or POE) Power Supply
    - SSD/HHD (the SD Card of the Raspberry Pi could probably be considered that)
    - USB Ports for Keyboard/Mouse (Raspberry Pi has that)
    - Video Output (Raspberry Pi has that)
    - Network Connection (Raspberry Pi has that)
    - Ready to use OS (I guess Raspberry Pi could be considered to have that with Raspbian)

    More philosophically, I would consider a General Purpose computer to be one that you take out of the box, plug in and turn on - the Raspberry Pi really doesn't fit that use case which makes it hard for me to consider it a "General Purpose" computer.

    I would consider it to be a very successful "Custom Purpose" computer, however.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Excuse me, who's definition of "computer" are you using? Because none of those are requirements for a device to be called a general purpose computer.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Not sure of what I would consider my exact definition of a general purpose computer but I would definitely not include A Pi in it. I love my Pi but it is a specialist device, enthusiast device or such, it certainly isn't general purpose, it tends to be more custom specialised purpose.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          Come on now, get with the program. This is how the game is played these days. Carefully craft a metric that puts you at the top of the heap.

    • Open firmware (Score:5, Interesting)

      by radoni ( 267396 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:17PM (#54063221)

      Open firmware: https://github.com/christinaa/... [github.com]

      Coders wanted. Linux bring-up is done, needs USB and display to be more useful. Discussion happens on Freenode IRC #raspberrypi-internals

      When this popular embedded platform has a fully functional open firmware to use instead of the proprietary bootcode.bin then I'll be a little more cheery about the success of the Raspberry Pi worldwide.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        It's not ideal but it's still 1000x better and more trustworthy than Intel it AMD systems with their built in rootkits.

    • I don't see how you can call it custom purpose but not general purpose.

      • I call the Raspberry Pi "Custom Purpose" simply because if you look at 90%+ of the advertised uses for it, they are just that, controlling machinery, kiosks, etc.

        Just look here: http://makezine.com/2013/04/14... [makezine.com]

        Now, see how many of these types of projects your basic Dell system unit is used in.

    • by zmooc ( 33175 )

      According to my definition of refrigerators, the Raspberry Pi is one. The thing with definitions is you cannot just make them up.

      • Okay, where is the accepted definition of "General Purpose Computer"?

        In response to the term "General Purpose Computer" used in TFA, I used what I would consider a definition and compare the Raspberry Pi to it to decide whether or not it fit the definition.

        If I ask Google "general purpose computer definition" I get 8.17 million results - if you read them, you'll see answers that include devices ranging from mainframes to smartphones to single board computers (and, I imagine, if I were to go far enough, I'd

        • by zmooc ( 33175 )

          Well most of your 8.17 million results probably agree on what these things are: computers that you can you use for many purposes. As opposed to computers you can only use for a specific purpose, like cars, washing machines, gaming consoles, dumbphones and toothbrushes.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Rpi is missing one of the most important features for a general purpose computer:

      - Non-DIY hardware switch to initiate software shutdown / safe unmount of SD card (it's really not convenient to attach a network cable so you can ssh in and do sudo shutdown -h now every time you're going to move it).
      - USB core that doesn't have a critical hardware flaw that was known in model 1A but wasn't fixed in the model B or B+, and still hasn't been fixed years later in the model 2 or 3 (aka I hope you're not depending

      • The Pi 3 has hardware divide. Though the software won't take full advantage of it if you use any of the standard OS builds because they're designed to be compatible across the entire range of models; you'll need a built that is made specifically for that model, and if you develop your own software you'll have to choose to generate code specifically for it. The other shortcomings remain.
    • by Repentinus ( 3490629 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:33PM (#54063777)
      A general purpose computer is simply a computer that can be used to compute any computable function when space and time constraints are ignored. Your phone is a general purpose computer. The opposite of that would be an application-specific integrated circuit or general purpose hardware locked down to running a limited set of applications.
    • More philosophically, I would consider a General Purpose computer to be one that you take out of the box, plug in and turn on - the Raspberry Pi really doesn't fit that use case which makes it hard for me to consider it a "General Purpose" computer.

      Why doesn't it fit that use case? You can buy it at the shops complete with wall power and memory card pre-loaded with a running OS.
      Just attach a screen keyboard and mouse and plug it in and turn it on.

      It's no less of a general purpose computer than any other. Actually it's more so because it takes far less time and effort to get Raspberian started on a freshly bought raspberry pi than Windows 10 on a freshly bought PC.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      You can order one with the OS already installed on the SD card. Take it out of the box, plug in keyboard, mouse, hdmi cable, ethernet cable or use wifi and plug in the power. It's up and running in seconds.

    • If you buy a bare Pi you have a bit of work to do to have a complete general purpose computer. That's appropriate because many of them are sold for embedded systems rather than to be used that way. But people are more computer savvy now and most don't find it a challenge to gather the other parts; if you want something simpler you can buy a complete kit that has it all (Pi board, case, NOOBS card, power supply) in the package. Still a touch of assembly required: you have to put the NOOBS card in the board a

  • ...Commodore 64 came complete with a keyboard, power supply and RF modulator / Video out/Audio out - and ready to use.

    And it was sold at a much higher price point, plus it wasn't really a dev-kit like the PI is. The PI is cute, but it's on the level with Arduino (faster of course), and other similar "devboards". So, if we're there - I can imagine there's a lot more sold Arduino Nano V3 Chinese clones sold than all the PI's in the world.

    • Ok you need a keyboard/mouse and power supply but the Pi does give you HDMI ( the present day equivalent of RF/vid/audio).

      • With the power supply its getting to the stage where many people already have one: any old phone charger will do.

        • With the power supply its getting to the stage where many people already have one: any old phone charger will do.

          No, it really won't. If it's a halfway decent phone charger it will do, but the Pi is very picky about its power input. That's just one of the many things that make it a not very good embedded board. You'll often need an additional power supply even if you've already got one. The fact that the USB is still crap is another one.

          • Eh. I use a 5 port Anker USB charger and run 3 pi's simultaneously off it with not trouble at all.
          • No, it really won't. If it's a halfway decent phone charger it will do, but the Pi is very picky about its power input. That's just one of the many things that make it a not very good embedded board.

            Those are rather unrelated: for an embedded board you get to choose the PSU as well, so you can just spec out a decent one. That's what I did when I used it embedded.

            I've just got another one (the previous one I used for embedded stuff so I picked a PSU which works fine). I'm going to try it on all my phone char

    • The PI is cute, but it's on the level with Arduino (faster of course), and other similar "devboards".

      No. It is not on the same level with Arduino, it belongs to a much higher level. Arduino is down with STM and PIC, Pi is up with embedded PCs. Before the rise of ARM and the rash of things like Pi we had actual PC-compatible machines in small form factors like PC/104. They were dramatically more expensive, of course, because technology hadn't shrunk everything cheaply yet.

  • Congrats RPI! LOVE my Pi3s and Zeros! I makes them into NeaT StufFs! http://www.thingiverse.com/thi... [thingiverse.com]
  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:26PM (#54063263)
    Not a surprise. To run win 10 you need 1000 of them.
  • 100% pure BULL SHIT (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jason1729 ( 561790 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:40PM (#54063311)
    This is 12.5 million units across how many different models of RPi? If I'm going to count all versions of RPi, what are total sales of Dell Latitude? How many total MacBooks of all versions have been sold?

    Also c64 sold 12-30 million units. Creative misuse of numbers on the RPi part.
    • The C64 also has the SX64, C128 (after all it did include the C64), 30 in one Joystick, and the C65, also I most likely missing some other versions of the C64 too. So if your going to include all the different versions of the RPi, you should all include all the different versions of the C64.
  • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:48PM (#54063349)

    how many C64 do you need to hook up in parralell to get the power of one Pi?

    • 0.5
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      C64 was released in 1982. 1982's Cray supercomputer could do 420 million FLOPs.
      Raspberry Pi's GPU can do 24 GFLOPs. That's equivalent to 57 of 1982's Cray supercomputers.

      http://gaming.wikia.com/wiki/Instructions_per_second lists the C64's MOS Technology 6510 @ 1 MHz as having 0.43 MIPS and 0 MFLOPS.
      Note that the 6510 is an 8-bit CPU, so it would take a ton of instructions to do 32-bit IEEE floating point in software on it.
      I don't know the 6510 instruction set, but it's clear that to simulate a 32-bit fused-

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      MOS Technology 6502: 0.500 MIPS at 1 MHz versus CPU: 4× ARM Cortex-A53: 2458.1 MIPS at 1.2 GHz

      That's what? Almost 5000 times faster? Of course once you start figuring in all the other improvements besides CPU it's really worse than that. People that wanted speed on the C64 learned assembler and they also learned to bang the hardware directly. By the 90s there were some of the Eastern European guys that had been using the 64 for 10 years that could do things the original designers of the C64 couldn

  • Why not add in the Vic 20, and the 128.

    • by Feneric ( 765069 )
      Agreed. If you're looking at "platform", at least the C128, C128D, 64C, Sx-64, C64GS, C64DTV, and C65 all need to be included as they were all C64 compatible. Note though that the VIC-20 wasn't compatible and shouldn't be included.
  • News flash! More toy plastic watches are sold than fine Rolexes.
  • by Jody Bruchon ( 3404363 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:39PM (#54063577)
    The Commodore 64 is "the best-selling home computer of all time" which is based on the fact that the Commodore 64 is a very specific model of computer. The Raspberry Pi 3 IS NOT the same thing as a Raspberry Pi. That's like saying the Commodore 128 is the same thing as the Commodore 64. The C64C was "the same thing" as the C64 because it was a cost-reduced version that was otherwise a completely identical piece of hardware. Each RPi is a completely different computer from the core chip to the peripherals to the I/O.

    Combining all computers that are branded Raspberry Pi and saying they have sold more units combined than the Commodore 64 is one thing, but saying "The Pi has beaten the C64 as the most units of a single computer sold" is an outright lie. The Pi series is also not a computer made for general-purpose use; it's an embedded system, and by that standard I'm willing to bet that there's some model of wireless router that has sold more units than the C64; perhaps the venerable Linksys WRT54G?

    tl;dr: the C64 still holds the crown. The article is based on bullshit logic.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You are mostly correct, with the one exception that the Raspberry Pi is an embedded system. Embedded systems don't come with HDMI output, 3d graphics acceleration, WiFi, Bluetooth, a NIC, four USB ports, audio out, and have both a choice of NOOBs, Debian, and Fedora (workstation, with Gnome 3!) as operating systems.

      I'm not going to claim it is performance driven, or that all of it's distros are as functional as the venerable as other better powered systems, but it is hardly in the same class of embedded sy

      • Embedded systems don't come with HDMI output, 3d graphics acceleration, WiFi, Bluetooth, a NIC, four USB ports, audio out, and have both a choice of NOOBs, Debian, and Fedora (workstation, with Gnome 3!) as operating systems.

        Embedded systems can have any or all of those characteristics. They are simply designed to be embedded in another device, and not stand alone with their own case and power supply. An automotive infotainment system is an embedded computer. And they typically have 3d acceleration today, they certainly have networking, they usually have USB, they obviously have audio out... Or the computerized displays tucked into some otherwise-mechanical slot machines, those are embedded systems, but they're complete compute

      • We can split hairs all day long over this. The Raspberry Pi and its successors are not general-purpose computer systems for the era they are built within. They don't come with a display, keyboard, mouse, they don't have enough RAM to run a modern browser (at least the original Pi doesn't) and even when the RAM was upgraded they still have a pokey ARM chip at the core. The Pi boards are just little bare compute boards. They don't even come with a case or a power supply. They are designed to be embedded devic
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Titanek ( 4829413 )
      This! I was looking for someone to point this out... Pooling all the different versions of the Raspberry Pi together against the C64 doesn't make sense. Instead they should either have pitted the RPi against all of Commodore (including the VIC-20 and earlier, the 64, 128 and all the Amiga models), or held like the RPi 3 against the C64, which has C64 win by 3:1.
    • by Neo-Rio-101 ( 700494 ) on Saturday March 18, 2017 @06:29AM (#54064479)

      For this to be a valid challenge to the C64's record, only ONE model of the raspberry pi would have to beat C64 sales numbers, and then come with the operating system built in and ready to use with a functioning keyboard.

      The Pi just isn't in the same class. It's a great hobby computer board though, and more powerful obviously - but it's not a complete ready-to-use computer when you buy it.

    • The Linksys WRT54G has the same problem as the Raspberry Pi, in the sense that different revisions run very different hardware and not all revisions are compatible with each other. Which of course is confusing as hell since Linksys links to reuse the same model number over and over for some reason.

      Though I would argue that the Pi is a general purpose computer. Sure, many of them end up embedded in some application, but I've seen the same thing done to standard off-the-shelf desktop machines running the re

  • Apples and Oranges. (Score:2, Informative)

    by westlake ( 615356 )
    The Raspberry Pi is a circuit board for hobbyists --- one component of the kit of parts you'll need for various projects. The C-64 and its cassette or disk drive a home PC designed for mass market sale. No assembly required.
    • You really just need a keyboard and mouse. At that point it's a functional PC with programming languages, and several utilities. Much more than the C64 had.
  • C64/RPi Similarities:
    1. Both are computers.
    2. Both are currently gathering dust in people's cupboards.

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