Raspberry Pi was developed in association with Broadcom as a series of small single-board computers that can be used to teach basic fundamentals of computer science. The Raspberry Pi Foundation first and primary focus in education and countries without equal access to technology.
It was first introduced in Febrauary 29, 2012.
In less technical terms, think of the Raspberry Pi as a fully functional computer with all the unnecessary parts stripped away.
For example, you won’t have a display screen to “see” what’s going on. You’ll want to make sure you have a board with an HDMI input, as some Raspberry Pi products like the Pico are more meant for use cases that often don’t require a display.
But why would someone want such a stripped down computer? Especially if the board is totally exposed and doesn’t have a built-in screen.
Here are a few reasons:
- They’re extremely cheap. For under $100, you can have up to 8GB RAM processing power. Most computers don’t come stock with more than 8GB. Don’t believe me, this article from digitaltrends.com has lots of info about how much RAM one might need.
- They’re extremely malleable (metaphorically). As a small single board processor, the possibilities of what problems you can solve are endless.
Raspberry Pi 400
If you’re looking for something that is more ready-to-go and still allows plenty of opportunity for tinkering, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a Pi 4 with a beautiful keyboard encasing the Pi. This setup is great not just because it protects the Pi — the input ports are ready to go (and spaced out I might add).
A run down of inputs on the Raspberry Pi 400:
- 40 pin GPIO
- 2 x MicroHDMI
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 1 x USB 2.0
- Gigabit Ethernet
- MicroSD card slot
- USB-C power supply
Most Pis have something like this, but you’ll find that the ports are very close together and it is a frequent task when unplugging any USB to make sure you don’t damage the processing board. This is what is so neat about the Rasp Pi 400 — those inputs are spread out for ease of plugging and unplugging. And presumably with the endless uses to Raspberry Pi, you’ll be doing this quite often. I feel that a great essence of the Pi design is it’s modularity.
Some are skeptical that the Rasp Pi 400 just makes a Pi less customizable because of the encasing. I disagree. Having a sturdy shell and all those ports still accessible is a valuable combination. Along with the sleek keyboard so you don’t have to lug around your Pi and a keyboard, you’re able to go places with ease and still have 4G RAM of processing power. Anyhow, if you’d like to check out the Raspberry Pi 400 they’re only about $75 by most vendors like Canakit or Amazon.
If you are looking to get your hands a bit dirtier right at the start, there are many educational and actually quite useful projects only requiring a minimal amount of code or hardware. I would suggest getting a Raspberry Pi4
Imagine a photo album that changes based on the weather, or a smart mirror that display notifications or poems or reminders etc. Or how about building a Theremin that you can create music with? Really, the possibilities are only as limited as the mind’s creativity. And that’s what is so dang exciting about Raspberry Pi.
I gotta let you know: The purchase of the Amazon products in the article give me a small earning for sharing information as an affiliate.