The Raspberry Pi Foundation estimates that one million Raspberry Pi units have been sold since the $25 credit-card-sized Linux computer launched last year – which was yesterday listed as on the Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2013. The estimate is based on figures released by one of its distributors Premier Farnell (also known as element14).

Premier Farnell announced last week that it has manufactured more than 500,000 Raspberry Pis since February 2012, and there is no sign of a slowdown in demand. "It seems every time we talk about the Raspberry Pi we say it has been a true phenomenon, but it genuinely has," said Mike Buffham, Global Head of EDE at Premier Farnell.

Premier Farnell is one of just two official distributors of Raspberry Pi, the other being RS Components. "We don't have completely up-to-date figures from RS Components yet, but Farnell's news suggests that we're well on the way to having sold our millionth Raspberry Pi," wrote marketing manager Liz Upton in a blog post.

Raspberry Pi has helped to drive a new wave of enthusiasm for computer programming. With a motherboard no bigger than a credit card Raspberry Pi is extremely cheap, but is capable of running basic word processing and Internet applications.

The computer has basic input, display and networking ports, and can run Linux flavours including Fedora, Debian and ArchLinux. It has been touted by some as an inexpensive way to replace home theatre PCs or low-power Windows desktops for basic Internet and productivity applications.

Learn to code

The primary aim of the nonprofit Raspberry Pi Foundation is to promote computer programming.

"The younger generation has demonstrated significant intrigue in learning how to build and program their own computer device. And what has been great to see is the enormous growth in the hobbyist market," said Eben Upton, co-founder of the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

"I have seen projects from Twittering chickens to home beer brewing kits being created using the Raspberry Pi and its accessories."

At the end of last year, the Raspberry Pi Foundation opened a dedicated App Store for the Linux-powered device, which it said would make it easier for developers of all ages to share their games, applications, tools and tutorials with the rest of the community.

Premier Farnell also announced recently that the Raspberry Pi would be manufactured in the UK, making it the first all-British personal computer for nearly two decades.