What Is Raspberry Pi? A Quick and Easy Introduction

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Raspberry Pi has become something of a household name in recent years, with everyone from schoolkids to grandparents singing its praises. But what exactly is it?

It may sound like some kind of a delicious pudding, but Raspberry Pi is in fact a British single-board computer company. They released their first model back in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2014, when they released their smaller and less expensive model, that the company really burst onto the scene. So, what is it?

Raspberry Pi was designed to be a tool to teach anyone, children or adults, about programming. Offering a vastly stripped-down version of a normal computer, Raspberry Pi provides only the core components needed for building your own computer. With memory, input devices and screens all separate, Raspberry Pi is really the bare minimum. Its minimalism, simplicity, and ingenuity is what has lead to Raspberry Pi selling more 5 million units to date, making it Britain’s bestselling computer.

So how does it work? Well, once you are all connected with a keyboard and/or mouse and a screen, you can essentially program anything you like. The only limiting factors are the memory (which the user must provide and can boost) and the speed of the board. But this improves with every new iteration.

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Due to its versatility, people have been able to use Raspberry Pi to make all manner of devices. From setting up weather stations, to living room media centres, to programming small robots, and even a tripped-out microwave with food scanner and timer.

Getting started

There are a few things you will need if you want to get started with Raspberry Pi:

  • The Raspberry pi device itself.
  • You’ll need some way of displaying the output. Since the Raspberry Pi 2, there is an HDMI output, so hooking up to your computer or TV shouldn’t be a problem. In September of 2016 however, Raspberry Pi released their own screen which works directly with the device, although there are alternatives.
  • To be able to talk to the device, you are going to need at least a keyboard, so you can write your program, but the USB interface of the Raspberry Pi means that a regular USB keyboard will do.
  • A how-to guide. This is best if you are totally new to the idea of Raspberry Pi or programming in general. It will lead you through the process and serve as an invaluable referral guide when you get moving.

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Kits like this one include not just the essential parts but easy-to-follow steps Purchase (US)

You’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make things happen with Raspberry Pi. People are coming up with some ingenious ways to use the technology, from creating applications to building single-use devices. The best advice we can give you is to simply have fun with it. Play, experiment, and before you know it you’ll be a pro — or at least a semi-proficient programmer!

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