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How to Get Started With Your First Raspberry Pi

March 21, 2018 by Zac Jackson

Learn about Raspberry Pi's history, hardware and software, and different models, and find tutorials to get started.

If you're interested in Raspberry Pi projects but aren't sure where to start, this is the place for you! In this article, you'll learn what a Raspberry Pi is, a little bit of their history, their hardware and software, the different models, and finally, a list of tutorials to get you started!

What Is Raspberry Pi?

The Raspberry Pi is a small single-board computer capable of doing almost everything that an ordinary Linux-based computer can do. If you hook it up to an HDMI display, a keyboard, and a mouse, you'll have a functional computer for under $50! I say $50 because even though most Raspberry Pis are around $35, you will need to buy an SD card for memory since they don't have a hard drive. If you don't have an HDMI monitor or television, there are other ways to display your Raspberry Pi, like connecting it to a laptop display. Another thing to keep in mind if you are a first time Pi user is that you will have to install the Raspberry Pi OS on your SD card unless you buy an SD card with Raspian installed on it (this cost a little extra but can save you some headaches)

A Brief History of Raspberry Pi

It all started in the United Kingdom when the Raspberry Pi Foundation thought of launching a small single-board computer to promote the basics of computer science in schools and developing countries. The Raspberry Pi Foundation originally had a target market of schools when they launched the first Raspberry Pi, but it became so popular that the Raspberry Pi adopted by hobbyists and even some professional engineers. Raspberry Pis are often used to prototype IoT devices and robotics in the professional world. Rasberry Pi has many online communities (Like ours!) According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation, over 5 million Raspberry Pis were sold by February 2015, making it the best-selling British computer, and by November 2016, they had sold 10 million units.

Raspberry Pi Models

The Raspberry Pi family tree began with the original Raspberry Pi. The Raspberry Pi 1 Model B was released in February 2012. Then the family tree started to sprout with the additions of the Model A, Model B+, Pi Zero, Raspberry Pi 2, and the biggest upgrade of all with the Raspberry Pi 3, which added built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The most recent new model was the Raspberry Pi Zero W which is a small sized version of Raspberry Pi with built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for only $10. You can find links to more information about some models below. Considering the pricing and features, the Raspberry Pi 3 and Zero W are what most people are using for newer projects. If you are looking to buy your first Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi 3 is probably the best.

Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
Raspberry Pi Zero W

Raspberry Pi Hardware

All models feature a Broadcom system on a chip (SoC), which includes an ARM compatible CPU and an on-chip GPU. CPU speeds range from 700 MHz to 1.2 GHz for the Pi 3 and onboard memory range from 256 MB to 1 GB RAM. SD cards are used to store the operating system and program memory in either the SDHC or MicroSDHC sizes. Most boards have between one and four USB slots, HDMI and composite video output, and a 3.5 mm phone jack for audio. Lower level outputs are provided by a number of GPIO pins which support common protocols like I2C. The Pi 3 and Pi Zero W have onboard Wi-Fi 802.11n and Bluetooth.

Raspberry Pi Operating Systems

Raspberry Pi supports different flavors of Linux like Raspbian, OpenElec, Kodi, Ubuntu Mate, Fedora, Arch Linux and much more. Original Raspbian and NOOBs are probably the best operating systems for beginners.

Getting Started With Raspberry Pi

If you recently bought your first Raspberry Pi, here are some tutorials to get started!

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