What is Raspberry Pi and How Do I Get Started?

If you follow tech at all, you’ve most likely heard about Pi. But what is it and what can you do with it? Here’s a look at what Pi is and how to get .

Have you heard people talking about making geeky stuff with a raspberry pie? What they’re talking about is a small electronic device called a Raspberry Pi, also known as RasPi. What they’re doing is prototyping electronic devices and using the RasPi as the computer brains behind it all. Here’s a look at what you need to know about its origin and what you can expect.

Where Did the Raspberry Pi Come From?

The man who invented the Raspberry Pi computer and brought it to the world in 2012, was Eben Upton, of the UK. Upton did this because: “…children didn’t have the opportunity to pursue hobbyist computer activities…” Upton was a computer chip architect and organized undergrad studies in computer science at Cambridge University. In an interview with Wired.com, Upton opined, “…every year the sorts of things incoming students knew how to do got less impressive.”

Computers have become a consumer item that no longer requires you to know how to do things to them, you just do things with them. That lead to children becoming less tinkerer and more audience. Upton recognized that and he also recognized that if he was going to have an impact with the RasPi, it had to be at a price that parents, children, and schools could afford and not worry if they got broken. The original RasPi sold for about $35 USD. That’s how the RasPi was born.

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But, What is Raspberry Pi?

It’s a lot of things, but it all revolves around a computer board that’s a bit longer and wider than a credit card. As the FAQs on raspberrypi.org explain, its a “…computer that plugs into your TV or display, and a keyboard and mouse. You can use it to learn to code and to build electronics projects, and use it for the many of the things that your desktop PC does, like spreadsheets, word processing, browsing the Internet, and playing games. It also plays high-definition video.”


So it really is a full-featured computer in a tiny form factor, especially compared to the desktop computers of just a few years ago. The RasPi was originally meant to be a computer that just runs the programming language Python. That’s where the Pi part of the name came from, plus Pi is just a cool math term and a good play on words. As it was being developed, Upton went ahead with making the RasPi run with a Linux operating system (OS). You may know that Linux is an open source free OS used widely around the world by hobbyists and Fortune 500 companies. That made it an ideal pairing with the RasPi.

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