A History of Raspberry Pi Single-Board Computers

To celebrate Pi Day, we put together an infographic with a comprehensive list of every single-board computer released by Raspberry Pi.

Cameron Coward
2 years agoRetro Tech

Raspberry Pi launched with the goal of reproducing the BBC Micro experience in the modern age. The BBC Micro, released in 1981, introduced Britain's schoolchildren to the world of microcomputers and accomplished the British government's goal of increasing computer literacy.

When Eben Upton began designing the first Raspberry Pi prototypes in 2006, there wasn't a modern equivalent of the BBC Micro. Classrooms may have had computers, but they were expensive and didn't capture students' imaginations in the same way as the BBC Micro.

The first production Raspberry Pi single-board computer hit the market in 2012 and was an immediate success. It was affordable, compact, and useful for education. It also quickly became popular with makers and hackers. Since then, many other Raspberry Pi models have come and gone.

To celebrate Pi Day, we put together an infographic with a comprehensive list of every single-board computer released by Raspberry Pi.

Diehard Raspberry Pi fans may have noticed a few notable omissions in the infographic above — namely the computer modules, the Raspberry Pi 400, and the Raspberry Pi Pico. We left those out of the infographic because they aren't single-board computers in the typical sense of the term. Below you will find more information on those models.

Compute Modules

Raspberry Pi compute modules, like the Compute Module 4, have similar specs to their single-board counterparts, but do not include any ports (such as USB ports or HDMI ports). Instead, the compute modules include edge connectors so that they can slot into carrier boards.

Users can design their own carrier boards that include only the ports and peripherals that their projects require. Headless computers, for example, don't require displays, keyboards, or mice. So a user can take advantage of the power and compatibility of a Raspberry Pi without wasting space on ports they don't need.

Raspberry Pi 400

All of the models listed in the infographic above ship as bare boards, which means that users must supply their own cases, keyboard, mice, and so on. The Raspberry Pi 400, on the other hand, includes everything necessary to get started, except a monitor.

Like the BBC Micro that it inspired the Raspberry Pi line, the Raspberry Pi 400 is a computer built into a keyboard. It comes with a mouse and power supply. To get started, a user can simply plug the Raspberry Pi 400 into a TV via HDMI.

Raspberry Pi Pico

The Raspberry Pi Pico was a dramatic departure from the rest of the Raspberry Pi product line. Instead of a computer capable of running a conventional operating system, the Raspberry Pi Pico is a microcontroller development board similar to the popular Arduino series of boards.

Microcontrollers provide control over hardware at a much lower level than one would get with a computer. With a development board like the Pico, users can control motors, monitor inputs, read sensor data, etc., but they can't run software in the same way that a computer can.

Raspberry Pi created their own microcontroller for the Pico, the RP2040. It is both powerful and affordable, which made the Pico an instant hit. The RP2040 is also available for sale as a bare microcontroller and many other manufacturers are now using the RP2040 in their own development boards.

Did we miss anything? What do you use your Raspberry Pi for? Tell us about it on the Raspberry Pi platform discussion or tag us on social @hacksterio!

Cameron Coward
Writer for Hackster News. Proud husband and dog dad. Maker and serial hobbyist.
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