David Braben

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David Braben
David Braben.jpg
Braben at SingStar premiere at 2005 Cambridge game event
Born (1964-01-02) 2 January 1964 (age 51)
West Bridgford, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Occupation Game designer, programmer and entrepreneur
Years active 1984–present
Spouse(s) Wendy

David John Braben, OBE (born 2 January 1964), is a British computer programmer and CEO of Frontier Developments plc, co-writer of Elite, a space trading computer game, in the early 1980s,[1] and is co-founder of and works as a trustee for the Raspberry Pi Foundation which in 2012 launched a low-cost computer for education.[2][3]

Life and work[edit]

Braben attended Buckhurst Hill County High School in Chigwell in Essex. He studied Natural Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge, specialising in Electrical Science in his final year. He then went on to study Computer Science as a post graduate.

In 2012 Braben was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering,[4] sits on the BAFTA Games Board,[5] is a Fellow of the Institute of Engineering and Technology[6] is the chairman of the government Skillset board for approval of University courses.[7]

Elite was written in conjunction with Ian Bell while both were undergraduate students at Cambridge University. Elite was first released in September 1984 and is known as the first game to have 3D hidden line removal. Another seminal game written by Braben was Zarch for the Acorn Archimedes in 1987, then Virus) for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and PC, which was the first true "solid" 3D game.

After Zarch and "Virus", Braben went on to write the sequel to Elite, Frontier, from 1988 to 1993 and founded Frontier Developments, a games development company whose first project was a version of "Frontier" for the CD32. Braben is still the CEO and majority shareholder of the company, whose projects since 2000 have included Dog's Life, Kinectimals, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, LostWinds, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Zoo Tycoon, Coaster Crazy and games based on the Wallace & Gromit franchise.[8]

Panel at 2005 game event in Cambridge. Braben is second from left

As of 2006, Braben was working on an ambitious next-generation game called The Outsider, being developed by Frontier Developments. As said in an interview,[9] he was planning to start working on Elite 4 – as a space MMORPG game – as soon as The Outsider went gold. Braben said explicitly that this title was of a special value to him. The Outsider was abandoned due to removal of publisher support and was never published.

In 2008 Braben was an investor and non-exec director[10] of Phonetic Arts, a speech generation company led by Paul Taylor. Phonetic Arts was acquired by Google in 2010[11] for an undisclosed sum.

In May 2011, Braben announced a new prototype computer intended to stimulate the teaching of basic computer science in schools. Called Raspberry Pi, the computer is mounted in a package the same size as a credit card, and has a USB port on one end with a HDMI monitor socket on the other, and provides an ARM processor running Linux for an estimated price of about £15 GBP for a configured system, cheap enough to give to a child to do whatever he or she wants with it.[12] The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity whose aim is to "promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing."[13]

In 2012 Braben explained in an interview with developer website Gamasutra his opinion that the sale of secondhand games negatively affects development of new titles, also holding the price of games in general much higher than they would otherwise be.[14]

On 6 November 2012 Braben's Frontier Developments announced a new Elite sequel called Elite: Dangerous on the Kickstarter crowd-funding site.[15] Elite: Dangerous achieved its funding goal, setting a new record as the highest Kickstarter funding target of £1.25M at the time. Elite: Dangerous was released on 16 December 2014.

Braben was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to the UK computer and video games industry.[16][17]

On 12 March 2015, Braben was awarded the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award in video gaming at the 11th British Academy Games Awards.[18]


  1. ^ The Making Of: Elite, Edge, 22 May 2009
  2. ^ What is Raspberry Pi?, Telegraph, 29 February 2012
  3. ^ Demand for Raspberry Pi, the British £22 computer, crashes website, Guardian, 29 February 2012
  4. ^ http://www.raeng.org.uk/about/fellowship/fellowslist.htm?Page=8&Size=20
  5. ^ "Games Committee – Key personnel – About – The BAFTA site". Bafta.org. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  6. ^ "IET members among new Academy Fellows". The IET. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  7. ^ http://www.creativeskillset.org/games/article_3070_1.asp
  8. ^ "Coaster Crazy: Build, ride and crash any roller coaster you can think of. For iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch". Coastercrazy.frontier.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  9. ^ Q&A: David Braben—from Elite to today, GameSpot, 22 November 2006
  10. ^ David John Braben. "David Braben: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Google Acquires Phonetic Arts To Make Robo-Voices Sound Human". TechCrunch. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Rory Cellan-Jones, "A 15 pound computer to inspire young programmers", BBC News, 5 May 2011
  13. ^ "Raspberry Pi Foundation website". Raspberrypi.org. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  14. ^ Cox, Caleb (20 March 2012). "Braben sticks knife into secondhand games market". Reg Hardware. The Register. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  15. ^ Rory Cellan-Jones (6 November 2012). "Elite classic video games remake seeking backers". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60895. p. b11. 14 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Queen's birthday honours list 2014: OBE". The Guardian. 13 June 2014. 
  18. ^ Nutt, Christian (March 12, 2015). "BAFTA Awards honor Destiny, Monument Valley, and David Braben". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 

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