$100 laptop

$100 laptop for every child

It’s wonderful news for school students. Your government will propably start distributing laptops instead of your usual text books soon.
Government will buy the laptops in the millions, at $100 a piece, and give them to school students for free. Nicholas Negroponte, chairman of MIT Media Lab said at the UN World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia that his non-profit organisation was negotiating with manufacturers and would have an initial order placed by February or March.

At the World Summit on the Information Society (November 16-18), U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Nicholas Negroponte presented the first working model of a $100 laptop computer. The prototype was designed for Negroponte’s nonprofit group called One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). The plan is to bring computers to the world’s poorest children, beginning with Brazil, Thailand, Egypt, and Nigeria early next year. The ultimate goal is to put a laptop in the hands of every child.

The proposed $100 machine will be a Linux-based, full-color, full-screen laptop that will use innovative power (including wind-up) and will be able to do most everything except store huge amounts of data. This rugged laptop will be WiFi-enabled and have USB ports galore. Its current specifications are: 500MHz, 1GB, 1 Megapixel.

Laptops are both a window and a tool: a window into the world and a tool with which to think. They are a wonderful way for all children to “learn learning” through independent interaction and exploration.

How is it possible to get the cost so low?

* First, by dramatically lowering the cost of the display. The first-generation machine will have a novel, dual-mode display that represents improvements to the LCD displays commonly found in inexpensive DVD players. These displays can be used in high-resolution black and white in bright sunlight—all at a cost of approximately $35.
* Second, we will get the fat out of the systems. Today’s laptops have become obese. Two-thirds of their software is used to manage the other third, which mostly does the same functions nine different ways.
* Third, we will market the laptops in very large numbers (millions), directly to ministries of education, which can distribute them like textbooks.

What about connectivity? Aren’t telecommunications services expensive in the developing world?
When these machines pop out of the box, they will make a mesh network of their own, peer-to-peer. This is something initially developed at MIT and the Media Lab. We are also exploring ways to connect them to the backbone of the Internet at very low cost.

What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can’t?
Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data.

How will these be marketed?
The idea is to distribute the machines through those ministries of education willing to adopt a policy of “One Laptop per Child.” Initial discussions have been held with China, Brazil, Thailand, and Egypt. Additional countries will be selected for beta testing. Initial orders will be limited to a minimum of one million units (with appropriate financing).

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