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Ever since it first launched, the Raspberry Pi has caught the attention of every hobbyist, engineer, and geek out there. A proper computer for just $35? That’s ridiculous. And yet, that’s exactly what you get.

But what is it exactly? Who made it? What’s the point? What can you do with it? Let’s find answers for all the frequently asked questions about the Raspberry Pi.

What is a Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card-sized computer that costs between $5 and $35. It’s available anywhere in the world, and can function as a proper desktop computer or be used to build smart devices.

The Pi was originally intended to be a microcomputer to teach children coding. Its scope has been expanded after hobbyists and engineers saw its potential, and it is now one of the most popular technology items in the world. You can check out our unofficial Raspberry Pi guide Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Raspberry Pi: The Unofficial Tutorial Whether you're a current Pi owner who wants to learn more or a potential owner of this credit-card size device, this isn't a guide you want to miss. Read More to get started.

You can expand the Raspberry Pi computer with modules Five Great Raspberry Pi Expansions That Make It Even More Useful Five Great Raspberry Pi Expansions That Make It Even More Useful Your Raspberry Pi is versatile and at times amazing, but are you harnessing the full power of that little box? Power-up your Pi with these 5 expansions! Read More , like adding a camera module or a touchscreen module, to increase the scope of the device.

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Who invented Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi Foundation was formed in 2008 after a group of academics and technicians—Eben Upton, Rob Mulins, Jack Lang, Alan Mycroft, Pete Lomas, and David Braben—were concerned about students’ declining interest in computer sciences. Their solution was to come up with a low-cost computer to inspire children and make it more accessible. Here’s Upton:

Raspberry_Pi_founder_Dr_Eben_Upton

The idea was that these tiny computers would allow for easy basic programming. Its low power usage and cost were expected to make Pis more easily available in classrooms.

Today, a few of the original members still act as the Foundation’s trustees, while Upton has taken charge as CEO and project lead.

Why is it called Raspberry Pi?

The “Raspberry” derives is an homage to early computer companies being named after fruit, like Apple, Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, and Acorn (which inspired the microcomputer’s design). The “Pi” derives from the original idea to make a small computer to run only the Python programming language The 5 Best Websites To Learn Python Programming The 5 Best Websites To Learn Python Programming Over the past decade, the Python programming language has exploded in popularity amongst programmers in all areas of coding. From web developers to video game designers to in-house tool creators, many people have fallen in... Read More .

raspberry-pi-logo

In an interview with MakeUseOf Raspberry Pi's Father Speaks: Eben Upton On The Future of Technology And More Raspberry Pi's Father Speaks: Eben Upton On The Future of Technology And More Enthusiasm radiates from Eben Upton. He's the driving force behind the Raspberry Pi, that small computer that has been revolutionising hobbyist computing since its launch in 2012. Tall, and dressed casually, the founder of the... Read More , Raspberry Pi founder Eben Upton said they never intended to make a general purpose computer, though it’s quite capable of being one.

When was Raspberry Pi launched?

The first commercially available Raspberry Pi unit was launched on February 19, 2012, and sales started ten days later. This version could run Linux-based desktop operating systems 7 Operating Systems You Can Run With Raspberry Pi 7 Operating Systems You Can Run With Raspberry Pi Who can argue with a $40 computer? Especially one that also forms a good base for electronics projects! I certainly can't. But the hardware alone is only one side of the story: you still need... Read More , and featured 256MB of RAM, one USB port, and no Ethernet port. This was named the Model A.

What’s the difference between Raspberry Pi models?

Raspberry Pi models can be a bit confusing. There are two levels to the naming system. Pi 1, Pi 2, and Pi 3 indicate the “generation” of the model, where roughly Pi 1 is 2012-14 models, Pi 2 is 2015 models, and Pi 3 is 2016 models. So 3 is better than 2, which is better than 1.

Model A, A+, B, and B+ indicate the power and features. It’s not like grades though, A is lower than B.

There’s also the Raspberry Pi Zero, a $5 microcomputer for simple projects Raspberry Pi Launches $5 Model Zero: Here's How It Compares Raspberry Pi Launches $5 Model Zero: Here's How It Compares The Raspberry Pi foundation just announced the Raspberry Pi Zero: it's essentially a cut-down Raspberry Pi, with a price tag to match: each one costs $5. That isn’t a typo. Read More . It’s severely limited in comparison to the Model A or Model B series.

Currently, only the the Pi 3 Model B, the Pi 2 Model B, the Pi 1 Model B+, and Pi 1 Model A+ are available for purchase. Here’s a quick comparison chart:

raspberry-pi-comparison-chart-edit

 

Where are Raspberry Pi’s used?

The Raspberry Pi has won hearts all across the globe, from astronauts to hobbyists. In fact, right now, there are two Raspberry Pi’s orbiting the earth, conducting experiments aboard the International Space Station. British astronaut Tim Peake is heading the Astro Pi project, challenging UK school students to write code for experiments that he can perform in space.

Back on earth, a team of computer engineers at the University of Southampton put together 64 Raspberry Pis to build their own supercomputer! Each Pi has a 16GB memory card, making it a 1TB supercomputer. It’s like putting together a LEGO set, the makers say, and is an ideal Pi project for schools 5 Ways the Raspberry Pi Can Be Used in Schools 5 Ways the Raspberry Pi Can Be Used in Schools How exactly can schools embrace the Raspberry Pi and help encourage the understanding, learning and continued study of computing? Read More .

Then there’s a group of geeks who are making a autonomous marine unmanned surface vessel (that is, a self-driving boat) with a Raspberry Pi acting as the brain. This drone will swim across the Atlantic Ocean, fitted with sensors to take scientific measurements along the way. They call it FishPi, and it’s fascinating.

There are several other places that Raspberry Pis are being used in. And forget about such professional or hobbyist cases, there are plenty of real-world practical applications for average Joe too.

What is a Raspberry Pi good for?

Regular people can use the Raspberry Pi in a wide variety of tasks. It’s perfect for projects where you need a computer but don’t require much processing power, want to save on space, and keep the costs low. Here’s a brief list of some ideal uses of the Pi.

There are plenty of other things that the Raspberry Pi is good for, and a quick Google search should find the right thing for you. If you’re new to Pi, there are some projects for beginners Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners Raspberry Pi Projects for Beginners These 10 Raspberry Pi projects for beginners are great for getting an introduction to the hardware and software capabilities of the Pi, and will help you get up and running in no time! Read More to ease you into tinkering with your Pi.

How many Raspberry Pi’s have been sold?

The last figures released by the company come from February 2016, when they announced they had sold over eight million units of the Raspberry Pi. Of these, over three million were of the Raspberry Pi 2, which had been launched only a year before that.

raspberry-pi-model-b

This makes the Raspberry Pi the UK’s all-time best-selling computer, according to The Guardian, breaking the decades-old record set by the Amstrad PCW.

Where Can I Buy a Raspberry Pi?

There are three official partners who you can buy Raspberry Pi through, but you could also get it from third-party sellers on Amazon, eBay, or other retail stores. Here are the official stores:

For most users, it makes sense to buy the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B, which retails at $35 on Amazon. That’s the only model which comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, and includes a dedicated Ethernet port too.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard Raspberry Pi 3 Model B Motherboard 1.2GHz 64-bit quad-core ARMv8 CPU, 1 GB RAM Buy Now At Amazon $34.00

What Else Do You Want to Know About the Pi?

Hopefully, this answers all the major questions you have had about the Raspberry Pi. In case you still have any queries, shout them out in the comments below and we’ll address them.

Image credits: Onepiece84 (Wikimedia)

  1. Howard Blair
    August 30, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Sorry, but your chart is wrong - I have a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B, and it has an RJ-45 Ethernet port next to the 4 USB ports (just like the one pictured sitting on someone's hand). WiFi is by USB adapter, but wired Ethernet is built in.

    Didn't know the MicroUSB port was for anything but power; can anyone confirm this?

  2. malachim1102
    August 13, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    The inventor looks like jason stathiam

  3. Benjamin Rossington
    August 13, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    It would be simple to do. The OS would be Linux. Make a folder on the pi for the slides. Setup the pi screensaver to be slideshow from that folder. Share that folder on the network. Done.

  4. Bob
    August 13, 2016 at 11:44 am

    I would like to use this device to show a slide presentation on a 55 inch tv. I need to be able to remote in and update the slideshow on a regular basis. What operating system will it use and is this feasible.

    • Howard Blair
      August 30, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      You could use Raspbian Linux for this.

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