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What is the Raspberry Pi?

Updated on July 13, 2016

What is the Raspberry Pi?

If you have only just heard of the Raspberry pi, but don’t really know what it is – I will start with a simple explanation: It is a very small computer, which is around the size of a deck of cards (so in theory, it can fit in your pocket), and was created with two main purposes:

1. For education; in programming and computer hardware, as it can have components added to it in the same way a full sized computer can.

2. For ‘hackers’ to play around with, build their own creations, and overall to let innovation and creativity to be the pushing force for the Raspberry Pi’s success.

For the first purpose, it could very easily have a place in the new ICT GCSE course being added to replace the old, very poor course, which is designed to give students a taster of program creation/design, as opposed to the old course, which focused entirely on using existing software, like Excel.

For the second, I have written an overview of the different ways the Raspberry Pi can be used, which I will link you to here. Each of them is very creative, and could be the beginning of something amazing:

How the Raspberry Pi has been used

Details about the Raspberry Pi

So, to get a bit more advanced, it has two models – A and B. Since B is the more commonly bought, I will use this through the explanation. The only difference between A and B is that B has more slots/ports, and is a slightly more powerful computer.

It will be run on Linux-Kernel based operating systems, or other lightweight Operating Systems (which will most likely all be Linux based), for example Debian and Fedora. This means the Operating systems will be able to fit on small SD cards, which act as the systems memory (a hard drive or solid state drive would take far too much room up). It uses a 700Mhz processor, which for its size, is actually very powerful – especially seeing as less powerful processors used to run full desktop computers.

It will also come with 256 Megabytes of RAM, an Ethernet port, two USB ports, video and audio output (which come in the shape of a HDMI port, and your typical audio port), and an SD card slot. You can also get it with a power source, a pre-loaded SD card (presumable with the OS already on it), and the leads you will need. These will all cost extra, so you could save money by scavenging around the house for these extra parts – for example, many people are using old phone chargers instead of getting the power supply as an extra part. You may also have old SD cards lying around from your digital camera.

Since you get the Raspberry Pi with no case, there are many cases available, however your best option is to follow this review I wrote, for what I see as the best cases available (as you can change the colours to whatever you fancy having, giving you a unique product which is tailored to you):

The future of the Pi

So, that is the Raspberry Pi. It hasn’t broken any massive grounds yet, or changed the world in any significant way – but who knows what will happen next. Apple started with two computer enthusiasts who just wanted to make a difference, in Steve Jobs’ small garage - and look how that turned out! Nothing says that couldn’t happen again, and it could be started with this little device.


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