When Linus Torvalds first developed Linux back in August of 1991, the operating system basically consisted of his kernel and some GNU tools. With the help of others Linus added more and more tools and applications.
With time, individuals, university students and companies began distributing Linux with their own choice of packages bound around Linus' kernel. This is where the concept of the "distribution" was born.
A 'distro' typically consists of Linux kernal and an assortment of various software. Now Linux on its own cannot play mp3s or movies. However if you put in some software to do such tasks, you get a distro.
Redhat is the grand daddy of Linux distros. Of late there has been a great flurry in the Linux market and developments have been going on at fast pace.
In the next post I'll tell you about some of the most popular distros and help you in choosing the correct distro according to your needs.