Yes Virginia, there is a $14 computer. It’s a recent version of the Raspberry Pi, a favourite among electronic tinkerers since the first one was released to the public in Feb2012.
The $14 computer’s full name is “Raspberry Pi Zero W”; the Zero refers to it’s stripped-down profile, and the W refers to its built-in wifi. The other major models of the Raspberry Pi are (you guessed it!) 1, 2, 3, and 4 … and there are variations on each one. (You can check out the whole family of Pi and accessories at BuyaPi.ca)
And, as you may have guessed, you will need some accessories to make this credit-card-sized computer functional. With those necessary accessories, and shipping, and taxes, the kit will cost you at least $110. That is, assuming you already have a TV or monitor to use as a display.
What operating system does it run? Raspberry Pi OS; a Linux variant.
Is it a useful computer? Definitely NOT as a general purpose computer … it is too slow to effectively run office software or watch YouTube videos, and even typing can be tediously slow. (Sorry, bargain hunters.) So what is it good for?
It can do a lot of things very well. With the right accessories, it can play or record music, pictures, or videos … it is even fast enough to play high-def movies. Basically, like any computer, it can read inputs and control outputs.
It’s tailor-made for DIY projects. Want to make your own digital photo frame? Door opener? Robot controller? Do you need something to send you an alert via smartphone when an intruder is detected? There are hundreds of projects you can achieve with a Raspberry Pi (see projects.raspberrypi.org, or simply google for project ideas).
That’s what this $14 computer was made for.