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Raspberry Pi: the story of the world’s most famous miniPC

The story behind the Raspberry Pi

In 2006, Eben Upton, a British engineer with a degree in physics and engineering from the University of Cambridge, was researching how to create a board that had all the elements necessary to function on its own already integrated. Although that was not the only challenge that had been proposed, he also wanted its price to be very low.

I wanted it to cost no more than $ 30, because I wanted to help young people to access a mini PC with which they could experiment and see all the possibilities that computers offered. So you had to work hard to get all of that.

To create this plate, Eben Upton was inspired by an existing one: the Acorn’s BBC Micro. But he wanted it to be much smaller, to make it easier to use and avoid an over-cost that he didn’t want to happen.

However, the first prototypes looked rather unappealing. But being that, prototypes, they offered a valid design to carry out tests and debug the scheme for the final version that would end up becoming the first Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is born

Three years after starting that project, Eben Upton had already advanced enough to need a structure that would allow him to carry everything in a much more orderly way and thus be able to fulfill the initial premises. That was the reason why it was created The Raspberry Foundation.

This foundation had a charitable and educational profile based in the United Kingdom with which they wanted to guarantee that the cost of the product would be around $ 30. Because we have to remember again that the idea of ​​Upton was not to get rich by selling a product but to facilitate the youngest who could not access other more expensive options when they started in programming issues.

Of course, not only engineering students would benefit, the younger ones too, and that for many schools meant a before and after. Well, together with the birth of the Scratch language, the little ones learned to program in a very simple and visual way, dragging instructions with the mouse and quickly seeing the consequences of executing said code.

The origin of the name

Raspberry Pi is not only a name with some difficulty to be pronounced by some, it is also a very curious one for a mini PC. But it made sense that it was that because in those years it seems that there was a certain trend for food names. Companies like Apple had been joined by others like Acorn. So using the English word for raspberry was eye-catching.

Also, for Upton himself it was fun and fit the idea of ​​the project. But what does the “last name” Pi mean. It is not a reference to the number but to the Python programming language, which was used to enter the commands with the commands that the user wanted to execute. Something that also served to differentiate itself from other proposals that used BASIC.

The great milestones of the Raspberry Pi

With all this, the first Raspberry Pi was launched in 2012 and over the years it has not only evolved, also giving way to new versions such as the Raspberry Pi Zero and the Raspberry Pi Pico. Two similar plates, but even smaller, that also give a lot of play for certain projects. And all this while preserving that idea of ​​being offered at a low cost.

However, from that 2012 until now, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has achieved important milestones:

  • In September 2012, 500 thousand units had already been sold
  • In October 2013 they reached 2 million
  • The 5 million were reached in February 2015
  • In just four years, September 2016, they managed to sell 10 million units
  • By July 2017 they sold 15 million
  • In 2018 they reached 20 million units sold
  • At the end of 2019, 30 million were reached

As you can see, the figures are incredible considering that although right now there is a lot of information on the Internet to get started, projects, etc., in the beginning it was not easy to get started. But it was worth investigating all its possibilities.

The evolution of the Raspberry Pi

Now that you know how the Raspberry Pi was born, let’s take a look at the evolution of this popular and versatile development board. A device that has hardly changed in terms of design and dimensions. It is true that there have been some changes depending on the components or integrated connections, but basically you could say that it remains the same.

So, let’s review the technical characteristics of all Raspberry Pi models.

Raspberry Pi B

The Raspberry Pi B was the first board and was launched in February 2012. Its price was $ 35 and the technical characteristics were:

  • 700 Mhz ARM processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 x USB A
  • 8-pin GPIO connector
  • HDMI output
  • Audio output
  • SD card reader

Raspberry Pi A +

It launched in November 2014 and cost $ 35 as well.

  • 700 Mhz ARM processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • 1 USB A connector
  • HDMI output
  • 3.5mm audio output
  • 40-pin GPIO connector

Raspberry Pi 2

Presented in February 2015.

  • ARM 900 Mhz processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 x USB A 2.0
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Micro USB connector
  • 3.5mm audio output
  • HDMI output
  • 40-pin GPIO connector

Raspberrry Pi Zero

Presented in November 2015, with a much more compact size, its specifications were the following:

  • ARM 1Ghz processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI output
  • Micro USB OTG port
  • Micro USB port for power
  • 40-pin compatible HAT

Raspberry Pi 3

Presented in February 2016.

  • 1.2Ghz quad-core ARM processor
  • 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • WiFi connection
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • 40-pin GPIO connector
  • HDMI output
  • 3.5mm audio
  • 4 x USB 2.0

Raspberry Pi Zero W

Released in February 2017. A revision of the previous model with WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

  • ARM 1Ghz processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI output
  • Micro USB OTG port
  • Micro USB port for power
  • 40-pin compatible HAT
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connection

Raspberry Pi Zero WH

Launched in January 2018, this version had as its main difference that it already integrates the HAT flat welded to connect different accessories to its 40-pin GPIO.

  • ARM 1Ghz processor
  • 512 MB RAM
  • Mini HDMI output
  • Micro USB OTG port
  • Micro USB port for power
  • 40-pin GPIO
  • WiFi and Bluetooth connection

Raspberry Pi 3 B +

Launching in March 2018.

  • 1.4GHz Quad Core ARM Processor
  • 1GB LPDDR4
  • WiFi connection and Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3.5mm audio jack
  • 4 x USB 2.0
  • 40-pin GPIO connector

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A +

Release date, November 2018.

  • 1.4 GHz quad core ARM processor
  • 512 MB LPDDR2
  • Dual Band WiFi and Bluetooth 4.2 LE
  • 40-pin GPIO connector
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • Micro SD reader

Raspberry Pi 4 B

Released in June 2019 with various configurations on RAM issues. These were 1, 2 and 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM. In May 2020 a new model was launched with 8 GB of RAM.

  • 1.5 GHz ARM processor and 64-bit support
  • 1, 2, 4 and 8 GB of RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 40-pin GPIO connector
  • 2 x Micro HDMI
  • 3.5mm audio output

Raspberry Pi 400

Launched in November 2020, the great attraction of this board is that it is integrated into a keyboard that acts as a housing and facilitates use within the education sector.

  • 1.5 GHz ARM processor and 64-bit support
  • 1, 2, 4 and 8 GB of RAM
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 40-pin GPIO connector
  • 2 x Micro HDMI
  • 3.5mm audio output
  • Enclosure with keyboard to house this version of the modified Raspberry Pi 4

Raspberry Pi Pico

The latest model, presented in January 2021. It is the most economical model and its use is intended for all those projects that need to further reduce the size of the final device.

  • ARM Cortex M0 + processor at 133 Mhz
  • 264 KB SRAM
  • 2MB onboard Flash memory
  • USB 1.1
  • 26-pin GPIO connector
  • Temperature sensor

The future of the Raspberry Pi

As you can see, the evolution of the Raspberry Pi is very interesting in every way and not only the main model, but also the rest of the variants that allow other projects to be tackled. Although it will be best to see how they evolve taking into account how the ARM architecture advances. But it is possible that a future Raspberry Pi 5 also a new price increase as happened with the last version.

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