What is Raspberry Pi?

Updated 28 November 2016

Hi there! If you’re wondering what all the hype and interest surrounding Raspberry Pi is about, you’ve come to the right place.

The original Raspberry Pi debuted in 2012, and is a credit card sized computer that has ports for USB devices like a keyboard and mouse, Ethernet and HDMI ports for network access and displays, and other peripheral connection. You can see below, the original Raspberry Pi board compared to the current Raspberry Pi 3:

Raspberry Pi 1Raspberry Pi 3 board

The Raspberry Pi Foundation’s goal was to design a microcomputer that could be used by adults and children alike to educate and create, and it has done this with flying colours!

Now in its third iteration, the Raspberry Pi 3 and Pi Zero are quickly becoming embraced by schools, universities, parents, and hobbyists alike. It is capable of running a variety of different operating systems such as:

  • Raspbian. The 'default' OS which is a versatile, functional desktop system.
  • Windows 10 IoT core which is a trimmed down, more embedded style of Windows.
  • RetroPie is an OS which hosts hundreds of vintage game emulators and turns your Pi into a gaming console.
  • OpenElec which is a media center based around Kodi. You can view, stream and browse your favourite multimedia content from local storage and online. 

It's incredibly easy to get setup and start programming in languages such as Python and Scratch, and the inclusion of 40 GPIO (General-Purpose-In/Out) pins, CSI and LCD connectors, HDMI and componsite A/V output, USB ports, built in WiFi and Bluetooth (Pi 3 only), and Ethernet connection makes it easy to use with a range of devices. To get your Raspberry Pi connected up and running for the first time, take a look at our Hello World with Raspberry Pi tutorial which looks at how to connect to connect to a display, others devices and a network.

Although it has found a home in DIY and Maker electronics world, the Raspberry Pi can be used as a regular desktop computer for web surfing, light gaming, and even as a media center. The following image highlights the key features of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B – it’s no wonder makers all over the world are excited about this latest release!

Raspberry Pi board labels

Very few extra components are required to get started with the Raspberry Pi, and our Raspberry Pi Starter Kit can get you up and running in no time.

If you’re curious to see what can be built with Raspberry Pi, check out our projects section.

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